Polluted Gurgaon air leave bureaucrats short of breath
Reports provided by the Haryana State Pollution Board that came out during Diwali highlighted that Gurgaon has recorded lower pollution level as compared to last year with most stake holders in the city administration claiming that the air was getting cleaner. However, in a survey released on World COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Day, 68 per cent officials of Gurgaon administration reported shortness of breath, to varying degrees.
A group of city pulmonologists and health experts conducted Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT Tests) on 100 bureaucrats of Gurgaon district — including SDMs, HUDA administration and Deputy Commissioner that showed poor respiratory health compounded by poor air quality. On testing, 57 per cent were found to have below normal lung capacity, with 48 per cent having lung function suggestive of Obstructive Airway Disease like asthma, COPD, said Dr Himanshu Garg, head of department, Respiratory Critical Care, of a private hospital who headed the team of pulmonologists.
In the survey, 21 per cent respondents reported having cough at-least few days a month and 8 per cent of them felt that their routine work was hampered due to the poor exercise capacity.
The survey, conducted at the Mini Secretariat — that stations all bureaucrats from various departments, found that 13 per cent were smokers and bureaucrats were aged between 30 and 40 years.
The survey certainly raises serious questions on outdoor as well as indoor air quality of Gurgaon. The official estimates clearly indicate exponential rise in respiratory diseases in the NCR Region. Despite this, very little attention has been paid to the respiratory diseases by the authorities and the medical community.
“In Haryana, the constant smoking of hookah and smoking beedi amongst the lower worker classes have led to problems. In Gurgaon particularly, the on-going construction at various locations has also led to pulmonary congestion,” said a heath official.
Situation is particularly bad in NCR, where the recent pollution levels have been reported to much higher than the acceptable limits on most days of the year, sometimes as high as 35 times the normal limits, the health official added.
COPD has emerged as one of the serious health issues. According to the World Health Organisation estimates, 65 million people have moderate to severe COPD and it is estimated to be the third leading cause of death by 2030. As far as prevalence of COPD in India is concerned, crude estimates suggest there are 30 million COPD patients in the country.
“To achieve best possible outcomes, we are planning to integrate yoga with other complimentary therapies in treatment protocols,” said the official.
T L SatyaPrakash, Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon said: “It is noticeable that the health of many here is not good. Efforts are being made. One of the major disadvantages we have had in Gurgaon is the use of diesel gensets that contributed a lot to polluted ambient air. District administration in the last six months launched a major crackdown on them.”
He also added that considering the fact that working environment is not good, counselling sessions will be organised for workers to make them aware of these issues.
“Plans to include the status of heath in the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) is also being considered. Yoga day should be done more frequently,” he further added.