The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Saturday expressed concern over the deteriorating air quality in the national capital which has coincided with the spike in Covid-19 cases.
The apex medical association of private practitioners estimated that 13 per cent of the rise in Covid cases occurred due to the severely bad air quality in Delhi while adding that it has increased the severity of the virus infection among patients.
"Environmental air pollution is one of the most important social determinants of health. The air pollution damages the inner lining of lungs and hence increases the severity of Covid-19 infection. In the last few days Delhi has reported more than 6,000 coronavirus cases everyday. 13 per cent of the increase has been estimated to be due to the pollution," the IMA stated.
The association said that the situation has worsened not just for patients of respiratory illnesses but healthy people as well. It also advised that people should avoid morning walks since pollution is at its peak during this time of the day.
"Increased air pollution leads to increased inflammatory response and patients who are sensitive to respiratory diseases may find it difficult to breathe if the AQI is between 50 to 100.
"An AQI of above 300 makes it difficult not only for people with respiratory problems, but healthy people as well. Hence, it is advisable that people do not go out early in the morning when pollution levels are the highest. Merely walking could result in health complications due to the high concentration of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in Delhi`s air," the IMA explained.
The medical association also said that elderly people and children are more likely to develop infections and allergies due to smog.
"Poor air quality may result in the aggravation of asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), high blood pressure and even cardiovascular diseases," it added.
It noted that N-95 masks and air purifiers may not provide full protection until curbs are put on major sources of air pollution in Delhi such as vehicular, industrial and powerhouse emissions, construction, burning of agricultural and municipal wastes, and mining in the Aravalli hill areas.
While stressing the need for the implementation of long-term measures to curb air pollution, the IMA suggested a few measures to improve the air quality in Delhi like the use of public transport, using solar powered, energy efficient products and recyclable products, planting gardens etc.
The dreaded season of air pollution has returned in Delhi-NCR. In the last 10 days the national capital and its satellite towns have seen a sudden sharp spike in air pollution levels.
Delhi's AQI on Saturday remained above 350 while the safe limit is between 0 and 50.