The environment conservation society SwitchON Foundation launched a ‘clean air medical student ambassador program’ on World Cancer Day to create awareness on air pollution impact on health.
The program was launched on the sidelines of a webinar organised by the foundation attended by nearly 70 medical students from Jharkhand and leading doctors and health practitioners from Jharkhand and Bengal.
“The health experts issued an urgent warning on the growing number of cancer patients and impact of air pollution. The objective behind the medical student’s engagement program is to help in creating awareness amongst budding medical practitioners and help them get necessary training from experts on air pollutions and then mentor nearly 500 more students by conducting 10 workshops and conferences and bring out more research/data on air pollution in Jharkhand. Lastly conduct of health camps in air pollution vulnerable areas,” said Vinay Jaju, managing director of the foundation.
The official also said that the foundation would not only provide resources to the medical students to get training and also conduct workshop but also provide necessary equipment for conduct of health camps.
“People in major cities of Jharkhand are suffering from allergies, running nose and irritation of respiratory tracts but are clueless about the reasons. Medical experts are also not in a position to officially link them with air pollution in the absence of scientific data. Jharkhand has a striking death rate of 59.2 per cent attributed to air pollution for people below 70 years according to Centre for Science and Environment,” said the spokesperson of SwitchON Foundation.
“As per the experts there has long been concern that airborne carcinogens contribute to the global burden of cancer, especially of the lung, which receives the most substantial inhaled doses.
“Environmental pollutants are the risk factors for many cancers, and the most common is lung cancer followed by urological cancers, haematological malignancies, head and neck and gastrointestinal cancers,” added the spokesperson.
In 2000, the US National Toxicology Program added diesel particulate matter (DPM) to their list of carcinogensand proclaimed that DPM is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” and according to a 2002 US Environmental Protection Agency report more than 100 carcinogenic of potentially carcinogenic components have been specifically identified in diesel emissions.
Ranchi-based Dr Namrata Agarwal Mahansaria who holds a fellowship in Surgical Oncology said during the webinar, “The growing pollution level due to the diesel-run autos and other vehicles, mines releasing coal dust and industrial smoke, and ever-growing rate of tobacco consumption are the primary reasons for the growing number of cancer patients across Jharkhand, particularly mouth and lung cancer tops among men and uterine cervix and breast cancer amongst women.”
Dr Atri Gangopadhyay, the national spokesperson Chest Council of India and consultant pulmonologist at the Pulse Hospital, Ranchi said: “The health impacts of air pollution need to be highlighted to protect the health of children and adults. It is a major health issue and not merely a chemical or environmental issue. It affects each and every part of the body besides lungs which are the first to get affected.
“Now, there is enough epidemiologic and experimental evidence of the genotoxic and mutagenic effects of air pollution on human DNA, which is a key cancer driver.”
Dr Nirupam Sharan, the consultant respiratory medicine, interventional pulmonology, at The Happy Lungs, Ranchi, said: “There is correlation between level of ambient air pollutants and lung diseases among children. Evidence suggests that early-life exposure to air pollution increases the risk of childhood asthma. No level of particulate matter is permissible, hence we must work to bring them to negligible levels.”