India tops the list of diabetes deaths due to air pollution

According to the report released by the State of Global Air 2019 exposure to fine particulate pollutants has lead to the highest Type 2 diabetes deaths in India.

In 2017, after issues like high blood sugar and obesity, exposure to PM 2.5 pollution was found to be the third leading risk factor globally for deaths and disability caused by Type 2 diabetes. Reports also revealed that in 2017 diabetes accounted for more than one million deaths and 57 million life years lost globally – an increase of 175% and 141%, respectively, since 1990.

Dr Vishwanathan Mohan, diabetologist and chairman of Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre said, “PM 2.5 particles are endocrine disruptors. They can affect insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity. They can also damage the beta cells in the pancreas that produces insulin… the exact pathways are not known yet. But increasingly, research is showing these connections. So apart from poor diet, obesity etc., air pollution definitely plays a role in diabetes.”

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According to a report by Health Effects Institute (HEI) and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Global Burden of Disease project, India was hit the hardest followed by China, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil.  Exposure to PM 2.5 pollution accounted for 55,000 deaths and loss of 2.7 million life years in India.  68% rise has been recorded in the number of deaths attributed to PM 2.5 exposure since 1990, being the record high between 1990 and 2010.

Among 13 countries, with a population of over 50 million, India tops the list, having more than 60% of the population exposed to household air pollution followed by 32% in China. Lately, implementation of a major government program to shift households from solid fuels to liquefied petroleum gas has lead to a dip in the proportion of households cooking with solid fuels in India from 76% in 2005 to 60% (846 million) in 2017.

Robert O’Keefe, vice president, Health Effects Institute, Boston, US, said, “India has initiated major steps to address pollution sources: the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG program, accelerated Bharat Stage VI vehicle standards, and the new National Clean Air Programme. These and future initiatives have the potential if fully implemented as part of a sustained commitment to air quality, to result in significant health benefits in coming years,”.

According to the report, exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution has resulted in over 1.2 million deaths in India and China in 2017, the highest in the world. Globally, PM 2.5 pollution, household pollution and ozone emissions accounted for about 4.9 million deaths which make for 8.7% of all deaths globally.




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