Even a 10 microgram per cubic metre rise in particulate matter (PM 10) level can increase breathlessness and reduce lung function among diabetic persons. The results of the Wellcome Trust Genetic study are a startling indicator of how diabetic patients are at great risk of impaired lung function due to air pollution in Pune. This is the first time researchers aimed at investigating the long-term pulmonary effects of air pollution in Pune where the typical concentrations of PM 10 in the ambient air is above 100 µg/m3. The study “Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Among Diabetic and Non-diabetics: Insulin Resistance in Diabetic Patients”, is set to be published soon in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research.
According to researchers, there is scientific evidence now that the increasing PM 10 levels have led to poor glucose control and insulin resistance among diabetics. “Our analysis showed that exposure to higher PM 10 concentration was related with increased risk of chronic cough, dyspnea (breathlessness) and impaired lung function. The prevalence of wheezing, allergy symptom, chest tightness, asthma and COPD were significantly higher among diabetic subject than non-diabetics,” Dr Sundeep Salvi, director, Chest Research Foundation, and one of the co-authors of the WellGen Study that was supported by the Wellcome Trust (London), said. Researchers Morteza Khafaie from Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Iran, worked in coordination with Dr C S Yajnik, director of the Diabetes Research Unit at KEM hospital, Dr Ajay Ojha from Technogreen Environmental Solutions and Salvi to examine the effect of exposure to ambient PM 10 on chronic symptoms and the pulmonary function tests in diabetic and non-diabetic persons.
Diabetics may be more vulnerable to the harmful effects of ambient air pollutants than healthy individuals. But the risk factors that lead to susceptibility to air pollution in diabetics have not yet been identified, Yajnik explained, adding that 400 Type 2 diabetic and 465 non-diabetic persons were investigated for chronic respiratory symptoms at KEM hospital. Air pollutants and meteorological data were provided by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the Indian Meteorological Department.
Air pollution contributes to 6.6 million premature deaths every year in rapidly developing countries and plays a significant role in the casualty and worsening of both the diseases, Yajnik said. Its effect on health of the Indian people has not been well investigated. Previously, too, the same team of researchers reported that the daily fluctuation in air pollution could produce inflammatory responses. Air pollution is a big problem, can’t keep quiet about it, say experts, urge action
The ambient air pollution has been shown to be associated with several acute and chronic adverse effects on human health, especially those involving the respiratory and cardiovascular system. This study suggests that the decline in exposure may significantly reduce dyspnea and impaired lung function. “Air pollution is a big problem in the city and we cannot keep quiet about it,” Salvi said and urged that despite a lot of data being generated, not much was being done to create a health impact. Last year, an International Energy Agency report estimated that around 1.6 million premature deaths in India were due to air pollution.
To protect citizens from rising air pollution levels, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has taken the initiative to develop an Air Quality Index (AQI) and Air Information & Response (AIR) Plan. The Ahmedabad AQI is supported by technical expertise from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune (IITM)’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) programme. Can Pune follow a similar model? experts have now asked. Dr Gufran Beig, project director at SAFAR, said that they have been rating the air quality in “good”, “moderate” and “poor” categories. It is now up to the citizens and local administration to activate a response plan and follow health advisories.