Air Pollution in Delhi: Current Status and its Disastrous Effects on Health; A Doctor’s Perspective

The air pollution in Delhi has been worsening year after year. This winter, pollution has reached the worst levels, making Delhi air unfit for human habitation. For the last 1 month, Delhiites have been gasping for breath, coughing relentlessly, pneumonia cases are there in dozens and the emergency departments of all hospitals have been flooded with patients for nebulizers. The sale of antibiotics, nebulizers and other respiratory medicines has risen several folds.
As per the latest estimates, the pollutants in Delhi’s air are 7 to 12 times higher than WHO permitted limits.1 PM 2.5 and PM 10 are the most dangerous small particles and the best indicators of the level of health risks from air pollution. According to Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) November 2015 press release on Monitoring of Ambient Air & Noise Monitoring, average PM 2.5 and PM 10 today stand at levels of 281 and 620μg/m3 respectively. 2 This is a sharp rise from last year’s average concentration of 250 and 550 μg/m3 respectively. The permitted WHO standard is 60μg/m3 for PM 2.5 and 100 μg/m3 for PM 10. Additionally, carbon monoxide (CO), another poisonous and injurious substance, is touching 6,000 μg/m3, three times the permitted level. 2
The trapping of poisonous substances under the layer of fog is raising the levels of these harmful substances to alarming levels. As a matter of fact, we are all living and breathing in gas chamber. This is causing throat problems, nasal allergies, chest troubles and other ailments. The ENT doctors are observing a lot of nasal allergies, which is due to exposure to high levels of smoke. Thousands of people are suffering from throat congestion, another direct effect of smoke. The asthma patients are experiencing aggravation of their symptoms, while those who never had asthma are experiencing asthma like symptoms such as wheezing and breathlessness. The elderly are experiencing cough and breathlessness. There is a sharp rise in viral fever-a direct effect of smoke-causing inflammation of the lining of our wind pipe and making us vulnerable to all kind of viral and bacterial infections.
The sickness absenteeism in all offices has touched an all time high. The “Cough” is ubiquitous and in many meetings, we hear coughing more than talking. The worst affected are the children (since they have very small airways and any swelling of airways causes a lot of obstruction to the passage of air) and elderly, who have very little reserve to fight infections. The situation has reached to a level that very soon people will be exiting the city of Delhi just on health grounds. We may also have to place nebulizers and oxygen point as accessories in all cars and offer as “essential for all” at all petroleum pumps very soon. All this is not fiction, it’s going to be a reality soon!
All of us are working hard, saving money and making beautiful houses etc to leave for our families so that they can enjoy a good life. However, it is ironic that none of us is bothered about leaving a “good” or “decent” air to breathe for our children. “Can they enjoy a house without clean air ?” While we can have our own power generator in every house, skilful arrangements for water supply (tubewell) in every house, there is no way to have “our own air supply”.

It is imperative for all to stand up right now and act together to save ourselves and our future generation. If we do not act now, we will all choke to death – of course slowly but definitely – in the world’s most polluted city of Delhi. The only way to have “clean air for us” is to have the “air around us clean”.

Dr. (Prof.) Arvind Kumar
Managing Trustee – The Lung Care Foundation
Chairman – Centre for Chest Surgery
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi
Website :


An Initiative by Lung Care Foundation

Pledge to join the fight against lung cancer.

Pledge to join the fight against Air Pollution

To take care of our lungs, appreciate the simple pleasure of breathing, understand the pitfalls of air pollution, incorporate good practices and impart the same to our loved ones.


Spread the Awareness, Like us on our Facebook page.

Dr Arvind Kuamr

Comments for “Air Pollution in Delhi: Current Status and its Disastrous Effects on Health; A Doctor’s Perspective”

  1. Pingback: 10 Points to Save Our Lungs in High Levels of Air Pollution |

Leave a Reply