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Toxic Capital air killing like never before

delhi Updated: Nov 08, 2011 01:33 IST
Neelam Pandey

The Capital is breathing poison. Every day 21 people die of respiratory diseases in Capital and vehicular pollution is to be blamed in the majority of cases.

In 2010, 7,525 persons died of complications from respiratory diseases. The figure is up 41% from that for 2009 when 5,328 such deaths were reported, according to the Delhi Statistical Handbook, 2011.

"Pollution is a major cause of the fast increase in the cases of respiratory diseases in the city," said health minister AK Walia. "With the introduction of CNG, the air quality had seen improvement. But the situation seems to be deteriorating again."

Deaths due to respiratory diseases have almost doubled in the last four years. In 2007, the number was 4,246 but in 2010, it touched 7,525.

Asthma is the most common problem — which plagues both elderly and children — compounded by dirty air. “Pollution is one of the major contributing factors that makes the condition of people suffering from chronic respiratory diseases worse, “ said Dr Nishant Jain, a chest specialist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. “Asthmatics, in particular, are prone to life-threatening attacks.”

Walia also blamed rising numbers of vehicles for the worsening air quality. As many as 13,000 new vehicles are added to the city roads a day.

Hectic construction activity in the run up to the Commonwealth Games also contributed to the spike in the number of people complaining of respiratory disorders in 2010, said Walia. Dust particles remained suspended in the air for a long time, contributing to the pollution.