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Insurance Article

Air Pollution - The Silent Killer

November 03 2016
Air Pollution

Air pollution resulting in countless casualties across India

Air pollution in the country has been a hot issue these past few years. According to a recent Greenpeace Report India published, India surpassed China in number of premature deaths; India reporting 3,283 premature per day compared to China’s 3,233 per day.

The tragic news is that the global number is set to increase by 7.5 million in 2040 unless the energy sector is able to curb its emissions.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) made it public that fine particulate matter has the greatest impact on health and give rise to various health issues, especially in the urban areas.

The Pollutants

The urban regions are major generators of pollution due to industrialisation. The common sources for this rise in pollution is contributed towards the following:

  • Increase in number of vehicles
  • Emissions from factories and power plants
  • Combustion of biomass
  • Kerosene usage for lighting
  • Unregulated use of fuel energy

The fine particulate matter is released on burning of fuel and other sources like vehicle, power plants and households. The WHO report states that deaths due to indoor pollution have been higher than outdoor air pollution. Not surprising since many homes in India still use biomass for cooking and kerosene for lighting which easily saturates into the atmosphere increasing the level of pollutants.

Further, use of unregulated fuel energy are the contributing reasons for this man-made environment crisis. The effects of air pollution and fine particulate matter can be managed only by adopting cleaner fuel for cooking and electricity.

The Health Impact

As per the statistics released by WHO, the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is known to create a broad spectrum of health issues ranging from chronic illness to death. The particulate matter less than 2.5 micron is the most persistent and can remain in the air for weeks. It enters deep into the respiratory system through nose and throat and entering the bloodstream from the tiny air sacs.

The body then naturally reacts to these foreign materials by releasing them through coughing and sneezing. The issue becomes acute when these particles contain other toxic cancer-causing chemicals. Over time it can cause serious ailments like heart disease, asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. Pregnant women need to be more careful, as long-time exposure results in premature births and babies born with low-weights. Infants and senior citizens may struggle to battle such pollutants leading them to fall sick often.

The WHO report further indicates that 1/5th of 3 million deaths worldwide were due to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure. It causes long-lasting cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

Need for a Change

Fine particulates are not just an environmental problem but also great indicators of health crisis to come. Its worldwide presence makes it imperative that strong steps need to be taken to curb their increase.

India needs to take strong measures as exemplified by China, who have had a year-on-year improvement. Lack of initiative to curb emissions in form of indoor and outdoor pollution could be lethal to the Indian masses.

One of the long-term solutions that help fight the medical expenses that arise due to pollution is a comprehensive health insurance plan. Such a plan will not only cover indemnity-based benefits, but also fixed benefits that pays a lump sum with critical illness cover. In new age plan, such as ICICI Lombard’s Complete Health Insurance, you have the opportunity to reimburse for expenses not covered in your policy through the wellness program. Click here to know more about wellness programs and comprehensive health insurance plans that reward you for staying fit!

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