4 in 5 Delhi NCR families surveyed have someone experiencing pollution related ailments: 18% have already visited a Doctor or a Hospital
- ● Top issues people are experiencing include sore throat, cough, congestion and burning eyes
- ● Families with members ailing due to pollution has risen from 70% to 80% in just five days
November 05, 2022, New Delhi: For over a decade, residents of Delhi-NCR have been struggling against rising air pollution, which worsens in the winter months soon after the monsoon and harvest in the northern states. Fighting air pollution is everybody’s responsibility as exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a variety of adverse health outcomes. The most health-harmful pollutants are fine PM2.5 particles that penetrate deep into lung passageways and are closely associated with excessive premature mortality. Children, the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions like asthma, heart problems, etc., are more susceptible. That is not to say others don’t face long term health consequences of living in a polluted environment. “It increases the risk of respiratory infections, heart disease and lung cancer. Both short and long term exposure to air pollutants have been associated with health impacts,” according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report. “Children, elderly & those whose lungs & hearts are weak, they should not go to such places where there is pollution. If you want to go, go during the day when there is sunlight & wear a mask. We can call air pollution a silent killer," states Dr Randeep Guleria, Former AIIMS director.
With many citizens sharing their health conditions faced over the last 1-2 weeks on LocalCircles, it decided to conduct a survey to better understand the suffering and steps taken. The survey received over 19,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram & Faridabad. 63% respondents were men while 37% respondents were women.
80% Delhi NCR families surveyed have one or members facing pollution related ailments in the last few weeks
Given the high levels of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR over the last few weeks, which has worsened post Diwali and is currently hovering between the extreme end of “Very Poor” to “Severe” categories in some areas, LocalCircles conducted a survey to find out “what are all the ailments you or members of your family are now experiencing due to the toxic air?” This question, to which 10,121 responded, threw up the fact that 80% families are “facing multiple issues due to pollution” and 7% indicated that they have had “no issues at all due to pollution”. Of the total respondents, 13% stated that the query is “not applicable to them if they are not in the Delhi NCR at this time”. In effect, to avoid the impact of high air pollution, some have temporarily moved out of the national capital region, while the majority of those remaining are having to pay a price – court ill health.
When a similar question was asked just 5 days back, post Diwali, 70% citizens had indicated that someone in the family was experiencing pollution related ailments. This number has risen from 70% to 80% in a matter of these 5 days. This is when 13% of the respondents said that they have left Delhi NCR temporarily.
People experiencing several conditions with 69% indicating having “sore throat and/or cough”; 56% have complaints of “burning eyes”; 50% have “congestion”
When the feedback from just those respondents who have one or more family members experiencing one or more health issues due to pollution is reviewed, it brings out a grim scenario. Of the 8,097 respondents, the largest number or 69% indicated experiencing “sore throat and/ or cough”; 56% have complaints of “burning eyes”; 50% “runny nose and/ or congestion”; 44% are experiencing “breathing difficulty/ asthma”; 44% are afflicted with “headaches”; 44% are having problems sleeping; and 31% have “anxiety and/ or difficulty concentrating.
18% Delhi NCR families surveyed have had one or more members visit a Doctor or a Hospital for pollution related ailments in the last few weeks
The next question in the survey focused on the kind of medical assistance families have sought for their pollution related ailments. It asked respondents, “What type of medical assistance to pollution related ailments/health conditions have you or family members sought in the last few weeks” to which 18% of the 9,626 respondents indicated that they or their family members have already visited a doctor or a hospital. The data breakup shows 22% indicated “one or more have spoken to our doctor already or have exchanged messages”; 12% revealed “1 or more of us have visited a doctor already”; 6% stated “1 or more of us have visited a doctor and a hospital already”; 6% stated “1 or more of us is having ailments/ health issues due to pollution and are likely to consult a doctor or visit a hospital in the next few days”. Of the remaining respondents to this question, 24% indicated “1 or more of us is having ailments/ health issues due to pollution but we believe we don’t need to consult a doctor“; another 24% stated “none of us have had any pollution related ailments/ health issues so far”; and 6% stated the question did not apply to them as they presently not in Delhi NCR. It must be noted that according to doctors, air pollution impairs lung immunity and if the lungs are exposed to any infection, pneumonia can get complicated. Post COVID, lungs of many people have lower reserve and that can lead to patients going into respiratory failure earlier than usual making this entire issue a critical health emergency in Delhi NCR.
In summary, the LocalCircles survey shows that the higher the levels of air pollution, the larger is the percentage of residents who are falling sick with sore throat, cough, congestion, breathlessness or experiencing headache and other pollution related problems. This is borne out by the fact that in just five days the percentage of people feeling its impact has gone up from 70% to 80%. Families having to seek medical attention has been going up. As the WHO and health research has revealed time and again – even if you are not immediately impacted, high air pollution has a long time impact on the health and thus the quality of life and also longevity. With 18% Delhi NCR families already having one or more members visiting a Doctor or Hospital and many more talking to their Doctor or exchanging messages, the situation is likely to get worse over the coming week. The only good thing here is that the Center for Air Quality Management and Delhi Government have both announced measures, some of which like moving schools online for younger children will reduce exposure. However, these measures are too little too late. Actions should already begin now for next October-November 2023 with aggressive objectives like reducing Delhi NCR pollution by over 50% assigned to all the State Governments and Central Government. For this pollution season, Delhi NCR residents are sadly on their own.
The survey received over 19,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram & Faridabad. 63% respondents were men while 37% respondents were women. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.