The government’s response comes at a time when Delhi recorded the second-worst air quality of this year.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
The government’s response comes at a time when Delhi recorded the second-worst air quality of this year.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

Spike in bad air in Delhi but government not sure if pollution kills

Officials said the air is expected to remain in the “severe” category – a classification when AQI is above 400 – till Saturday.
By Jayashree Nandi | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 18, 2019 07:20 AM IST

Can India’s bad air crisis lead to fatalities? There are two different answers, depending on which Union government ministry has been asked the question.

The environment ministry told Parliament this month that there is no direct link between pollution and deaths or diseases even though a health ministry report published in a leading peer-reviewed journal last month estimated that one in eight deaths in the country are linked to air quality.

The environment ministry’s response to a question in Lok Sabha comes at a time when the national capital is shrouded in “severe” pollution – Thursday recorded the second-worst air quality of this year with the air quality index (AQI) at 440. This was the third-worst reading this winter, attributed by experts to low temperature and slow wind speeds at the surface level that were militating against the dispersal of suspended pollutants.

Officials said the air is expected to remain in the “severe” category – a classification when AQI is above 400 – till Saturday.

“There is no conclusive data available in the country to establish direct correlation of death or disease exclusively due to air pollution. However, air pollution is one of the triggering factors for respiratory ailments and associated diseases,” the environment ministry said in the January 4 response which first reported by Scroll.in on Wednesday. In 2017, environment minister Harsh Vardhan said: “No death certificate has the cause of death as pollution.”

This sentiment is contradicted by findings by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), published on December 6 in Lancet Planetary Health, that 1.24 million deaths in 2017 were due to exposure to air pollution, and that bad air reduces life expectancy in India by 1.7 years on an average. ICMR is India’s premier research body under the Union ministry of health and family welfare.

Read more| Understanding the curse of air pollution

Prior to that ICMR report, the health ministry released another study in 2015 that said air pollution exposure impact was no longer limited to chronic and acute respiratory disorders. “It is generally accepted there are also impacts on ischemic heart disease, stroke, cataracts, and lung cancer. In addition, there is increasing evidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes, TB, asthma exacerbation, other cancers, and cognitive impairments,” said the report drafted by health experts such as Dr K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Dr Kalpana Balakrishnan of the department of environment health engineering, Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute; and Dr Kirk R Smith, professor of global environment health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.

“Just as with tobacco smoking, which produces the same set of impacts, air pollution needs now to be considered within public health programs concerning non-communicable and communicable diseases,” the report added.

The environment ministry, however, will launch its own assessment of the health impact of bad air. A National Environmental Health Profile has been commissioned to assess “human health impact in consequence of exposure to outdoor air pollution” in 20 selected cities across the country, the ministry told Parliament.

“Yes, we have no data linking air pollution with death. It can definitely aggravate existing conditions. Obviously air pollution impacts health but it cannot be the cause of death. If you have morbidity, air pollution will aggravate it,” CK Mishra, secretary, environment ministry, said on Thursday. Mishra added that he was aware of the ICMR and health ministry’s steering committee reports.

Balakrishnan, who was also the lead author of the ICMR study, said: “We have observed that people exposed to high level of air pollution suffer tissue ageing and inflammatory responses alongside other risk factors. In areas with high air pollution there is higher premature mortality.”

Read more| CPCB issues notices to Delhi traffic cops, DDA, civic bodies on pollution complaints

She added that while India doesn’t have long-term cohort studies on premature mortality related to air pollution, there are short-term studies. “So, there is no reason to doubt the relationship between premature mortality and air pollution. Long term cohort studies will take a very long time to roll out,” she added.

The Lok Sabha query answered on January 4 also says that “there is no increasing trend in air pollution which reflects the air becoming more toxic in the country”.

Emergency measures such as a ban on entry of trucks in city limits and stopping of construction and industrial activities come into effect in case air quality remains in the same zone for more than 48 hours as per the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) enforced by a Supreme Court-appointed committee to fight against Delhi’s annual public health emergency due to winter pollution.

The measures include radical steps such as shutting schools and curtailing private vehicles if the high pollution levels persist.

(With inputs from Vatsala Shrangi)

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Delhi's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.(HT photo)
Delhi's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.(HT photo)

Delhi Budget LIVE: Manish Sisodia to present first paperless budget today

By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2021 10:57 AM IST
  • Among the key highlights, the budget is expected to have a special allocation for free Covid-19 vaccination at Delhi government hospitals.
Delhi deputy chief minister and finance minister Manish Sisodia arrives to present Delhi budget at Vidhan Sabha. (HT Photo by Raj K Raj)
Delhi deputy chief minister and finance minister Manish Sisodia arrives to present Delhi budget at Vidhan Sabha. (HT Photo by Raj K Raj)

'All set...': Manish Sisodia to present Delhi's first paperless budget

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Arpan Rai, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2021 10:43 AM IST
Sisodia was seen carrying a tablet device in a red cover while entering the Assembly as this will be Delhi's first paperless budget.
Close
The Child Budget Statement is proposed to be prepared in two parts, namely 100 per cent child-centric and less than 100 per cent child-centric programmes/ schemes. (Deepak Gupta/HT)
The Child Budget Statement is proposed to be prepared in two parts, namely 100 per cent child-centric and less than 100 per cent child-centric programmes/ schemes. (Deepak Gupta/HT)

Andhra Pradesh govt to bring gender, child budget from financial year 2021-22

ANI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 10:38 AM IST
  • The Gender Budget Statement is proposed to be prepared in two parts. Part A- reflecting schemes that are 100% targeted towards women and girl beneficiaries; and Part B- reflecting Pro-women and girl schemes in which 30 to 99% allocations are towards women and girls.
Close
The Supreme Court said a decision on reviewing the 50% ceiling on reservations in educational institutions and jobs needs to be answered in the context of the “changed social dynamics of the society”(HT PHOTO)
The Supreme Court said a decision on reviewing the 50% ceiling on reservations in educational institutions and jobs needs to be answered in the context of the “changed social dynamics of the society”(HT PHOTO)

Time to review 50% cap on quota? Supreme Court asks states

By Abraham Thomas, Utkarsh Anand, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 10:26 AM IST
  • If the Supreme Court's five-judge bench accepts that the judgment in Indra Sawhney case should be modified, the case will have to be referred to an 11-judge bench.
Close
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)
The Supreme Court. (HT archive)

SC to examine whether to review 50% cap on quota: Key points

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sameer
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 10:01 AM IST
The apex court said the issue of whether it is time to scrap it on quotas in educational institutions and jobs needs to be answered in the context of the “changed social dynamics of the society” and recent constitutional amendments
Close
Representational image.
Representational image.

Toolkit case: Nikita Jacob, Shantanu Muluk’s bail plea to be heard today

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Zara Khan
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 09:59 AM IST
The duo, along with climate activist Disha Ravi, has been charged with sedition for creating and sharing a toolkit on social media related to the ongoing farmer’s protest against the three new farm laws
Close
ED officials at Khaira's home in Chandigarh on Tuesday morning.(HT Photo/Ravi Kumar)
ED officials at Khaira's home in Chandigarh on Tuesday morning.(HT Photo/Ravi Kumar)

Money laundering case: ED raids MLA Sukhpal Khaira's house in Chandigarh

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2021 10:30 AM IST
The raids are being carried out at five locations in Punjab, one in Chandigarh (at Khaira's house there) and two in Delhi.
Close
The statement was issued by the high commission said, following the debate which stemmed from an e-petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures on the parliamentary website.(AFP file photo)
The statement was issued by the high commission said, following the debate which stemmed from an e-petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures on the parliamentary website.(AFP file photo)

Farmers' protest: India condemns false assertions in UK parliamentary debate

PTI, London
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2021 10:32 AM IST
The mission said it would normally refrain from commenting on an internal discussion involving a small group of honourable parliamentarians in a limited quorum.
Close
Representational image. (HT Archive)
Representational image. (HT Archive)

Indiscriminate mining has irreversibly damaged Aravallis, suggest documents

By Jayashree Nandi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 09:42 AM IST
An affidavit enclosed with the application submitted by YS Malik, principal secretary, mines and geology, in March 2010 said in the Aravallis, opencast mining is followed, and stocks once mined are removed from the site and can never be replenished
Close
Elderly citizens receive Covid vaccine shots in Guwahati on Monday.(PTI Photo)
Elderly citizens receive Covid vaccine shots in Guwahati on Monday.(PTI Photo)

With 15,388 new cases, India's daily Covid-19 infections dip slightly

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2021 09:33 AM IST
The country also recorded 77 fresh fatalities, which pushed the death toll to 1,57,930, according to health ministry update.
Close
IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said that India is at the 'forefront' of fighting the pandemic.(Bloomberg/file)
IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said that India is at the 'forefront' of fighting the pandemic.(Bloomberg/file)

'India stands out in terms of its Covid-19 vaccine policy', says IMF's Gopinath

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 09:19 AM IST
Gopinath appreciated India's effort with its coronavirus vaccine policies when asked by the permanent representative of UAE to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh.
Close
Fire breaks out at the 12th floor of a multi-storeyed building in Kolkata, Monday, March 8, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI)
Fire breaks out at the 12th floor of a multi-storeyed building in Kolkata, Monday, March 8, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI)

Kolkata fire tragedy: Centre orders high-level inquiry and other latest updates

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Shivani, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2021 09:13 AM IST
  • On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ex-gratia of 2 lakh each from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund for the next of kin of those killed in the fire.
Close
Representational image.
Representational image.

Delhi HC to hear plea challenging new rules to regulate internet content

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Zara Khan
UPDATED ON MAR 09, 2021 09:16 AM IST
On February 25, the Centre had notified the rules for governing online content, which includes setting up a three-tier self regulatory mechanism for websites such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar and online news media entities
Close
A Kashmiri boy walks homeward after attending private classes, after a brief spell of fresh snowfall in the outskirts of Srinagar Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin)(AP)
A Kashmiri boy walks homeward after attending private classes, after a brief spell of fresh snowfall in the outskirts of Srinagar Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin)(AP)

News updates from HT: IMD predicts rain, snow in western Himalayan region

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 09:02 AM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
Rohtak has seen a steep rise in crime, particularly murders. The district has reported 14 murders this year against last year’s nine in the same time period. (AFP)
Rohtak has seen a steep rise in crime, particularly murders. The district has reported 14 murders this year against last year’s nine in the same time period. (AFP)

Missing woman's body, chopped into pieces, found in Jharkhand

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 09, 2021 08:43 AM IST
The body, identified as that of Sona Marandi who was missing since February 24, was recovered from the bank of Bansloi river near Rangatola under Amrapara police station area.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP