To investigate the increasing number of diseases resulting from exposure to environmental toxins contaminating water, food and air, a first-of-its-kind ‘Clinical Ecotoxicology Facility’ was inaugurated at AIIMS Friday.
The term “Ecotoxicology” is defined by Nature Research as an “interdisciplinary field that draws from knowledge and techniques in the fields of ecology and toxicology to study the effects of toxic chemical or biological agents on biological organisms at the population, community or ecosystem level”.
“Pollution is responsible for a global public health crisis. The facility would be the nodal point for leading research in clinical ecotoxicology in the country,” said AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, expressing concern over the alarming increase in the rate of death and disability due to environmental toxicity.
The new facility is ready for patient care, officials said.
As per the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, contaminated water, air and soil are responsible for about 9 million early deaths, which is about 16% of global deaths. About 92% of these early deaths due to environmental toxicity occur in low- and middle-income countries, which includes India. Children are most affected by environmental toxins, as their exposure to even low concentrations during intrauterine life and early childhood can result in lifelong physical and/or mental disabilities, it not death.
A first in the country, the facility will provide diagnostic and research services to all clinical departments dealing with diseases due to ecotoxicity.
Experts said the facility will be engaged in detection, identification and quantification of various environmental toxins in patients, having diseases of unknown origin.