Air pollution from burning crop residue impairs lung function of farmers, especially women: Study

admin November 13, 2021
Updated 2021/11/13 at 3:16 PM

One of the biggest studies of its type in India, linking the impact of air pollution on health, found that pollution from stubble burning considerably impaired lung function and was especially hazardous to women in rural Punjab.

The research took place in six villages of Patiala, Punjab, and was done in two phases: the first in October 2018 and again the following summer from March to April 2019, and the second from late October to November 2018. The latter is when crop burning peaks and the two timeframes were used to compare the difference in air quality between the two times. The research comprised over 3,600 individuals, ranging in age from 10 to 60.

While there is a lot of evidence linking particulate matter pollution to respiratory health, there have only been a few studies in India that have conclusively connected the effect of dirty air on lung health.

The research discovered that PM2.5 concentrations increased more than twice between the two periods, from 100 g/m3 to 250 g/m3, the category of unburned carbon particles considered most detrimental to respiratory health. Interestingly, they are about 10-15 times the WHO-recommended air quality guidelines, despite the fact that India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has set higher allowable criteria.

Across all age groups, a two-to three-fold increase in most respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, cough in the morning, cough at night, skin rashes, runny nose, or irritation of the eyes was seen during the crop residue burning season (10–60 years). During crop burning season, the older population (> 40-60) reported the most respiratory symptoms, whereas the younger age group (> 10–18) reported the least, according to the study.

Even after correcting for numerous other exposure factors such as the impact of cooking fuel, ventilation, and distance from the road, there was a reduction in lung function with an increase in PM2.5 concentration across all age groups. The authors discovered a 10–14 percent reduction in lung function in males and a 15–18 percent drop in females across all age groups.

Experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi and the Punjab Agricultural University contributed to the report, which was written by researchers at The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) in Delhi. The results, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, are available on the CPCB’s website, which backed the research.


Source: The Hindu

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