Chest doc sounds air alarm

One of every two people in Calcutta is affected by air pollution while 70 per cent of those spending six hours or more outdoors have unusual lung function results, a pulmonologist and researcher said in the city on Friday.

By Jayanta Basu in Calcutta
  • Published 26.03.18
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Calcutta: One of every two people in Calcutta is affected by air pollution while 70 per cent of those spending six hours or more outdoors have unusual lung function results, a pulmonologist and researcher said in the city on Friday.

Raja Dhar, the pulmonologist with Fortis, was speaking at a meeting, organised by Kolkata Clean Air.

"In our study covering 10,500 people in 2013, we found 5,300 were directly affected by air pollution... they suffer from serious lower respiratory tract infection," Dhar said.

"The direct effect of air pollution is qualified when someone has dry cough for three weeks or more and needs at least one dose of antibiotics to recover."

Dhar carried out the research on behalf of the National Allergy Asthma Bronchitis Institute.

While speaking to Metro, Dhar referred to a 2015 study on 3,650 people, all of who spent more than six hours outdoors. Of them, 70 per cent of the people had abnormal lung function test results.

"The telltale relationship between the city's air pollution and lung cancer can be easily understood because of the two major types of lung cancers, the dominant one in Calcutta is squamous cell carcinoma, which is not only directly linked to air pollution but is also difficult to treat," Chandrakanth MV, an oncologist with Narayana hospital, said.

Suman Mullick, another oncologist from the same hospital, said 50 per cent of his patients did not smoke.

"I am really scared about the future of our children," Arup Haldar, pulmonologist, said.

"We measured the PM2.5 level through two air quality monitors and calculated the 'air quality index' throughout February," one of the organisers said.

"We found the air quality index severe on 17 per cent of the month; on 69 per cent of the days, it was very poor."

While "severe" condition can affect healthy people and those with underlying diseases seriously, "very poor" condition for a prolonged period can result in "respiratory illness", according to the central pollution control board.