World’s worst lungs are in India: Study

Indians have the poorest lung function and the highest number of deaths from chronic lung diseases in the world. Doctors blame poor air quality for the malfunctioning lungs of the Indian populace.
“The lungs of Indians are 30 per cent weaker than that of Europeans and Americans,” said Dr Sundeep Salvi, a pulmonologist and director of the Chest Research Foundation in Pune, who has been studying lung functions across rural and urban India. He was speaking at a workshop on fuel efficiency and clean vehicles.
Dr Salvi insists that a steep rise in airways disease, including asthma and chronic pulmonary disease, point to rising air pollution though he did not rule out Indian genes either.
Dr Salvi pointed out that India also has the highest number of asthma deaths in the world. These findings are based on a nation wide survey conducted by doctors across our major cities covering three lakh patients.
“Respiratory symptoms account for 51 per cent of disease while digestive and circulatory disease jointly account for 33 per cent,” he said.
Dr Salvi blamed the heavy increase of vehicular traffic for plunging health levels. “In 1951, India had three million vehicles, by 1997, the number had gone up to 37.2 million and in 2012, it had increased to 100 million motor vehicles.”
Diesel vehicles produce 1500 times more particulate matter which goes deep into the lungs he warned.
A study of 16,000 children in Nagpur and Pune found that risk of having asthma increased by two-and-a-half times if they lived closer to the main road. The risk of asthma increased four times for infants living in proximity to main roads.
Doctors are also linking the risk factor for developing sudden heart attacks to increasing time spent in traffic. In New York, n wide range of pollutants were identified in those people who were exposed repeatedly to air pollution at traffic lights.

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