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November 27, 2011

Experts say pollutants in atmosphere endangering lives


November 27, 2011

PESHAWAR: The number of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases like asthma, cancer and heart attack have increased manifold during the last 20 years and there is great danger to human health owing to pollutants in the atmosphere and electromagnetic radiations such as excessive use of cell phones.
The observations were made at a three-day conference titled “Environment and Public Health in Modern Society” organised by the European Research Foundation (ERP) at Berlin-Potsdam, Germany, to highlight the adverse effects of environmental degradation on health.
The conference was attended by noted physicians and scientists from all over the world. They included the member of the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Cancer Medicine in Peshawar, Dr Sher Mohammad Khan.
In the conference, effects of global warming, chemicals, radiations, pollution, use of electronic devices like cell phones on health of human and other living organisms were discussed.
The speakers said children were at greater risk of getting brain or bone tumours near the ears for using cell phones.
In his address, Dimitrios Kotzias from the European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Health and Consumer Protection Ispra-Italy pointed out the hazards of indoor pollution on the human health.
He said that in the last decades, indoor air pollution had been recognised as an emerging environmental health issue. He added that several hundreds of chemicals belonging to various chemicals’ classes had been identified in indoor environments.
Lucia Migliore from the Department of Human and Environment Sciences, University of Pisa, Italy, said the adverse consequences of the increased lifespan expectancy in both developed and developing countries was the increasing incidence of age-related diseases, including neurodegenerative ones, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The scientists and doctors at the conference pointed out that spoiled environment was one of the major causes

of cancer in the world.
In his presentation, Dr Sher Mohammad said the region between the Oxus and Indus rivers was continuously in the news due to natural and manmade disasters. Cancer is also a disaster that can be prevented to a large extent, he said.
He added that in a hospital-based study of more than 32,000 patients, Lymphoma was the most common followed by breast, skin, oesophagus and oral cancer.
“Cancer of the food pipe (oesophagus) is also common in this region and research is needed to know its cause,” he added.
He said this type of cancer had been detected in the region stretching from Caspian Sea to North China for hundreds of years as Zuhar, a physician, used to travel in this area with milk enemas and silver dilators to treat the patients at the time. Oral cancer is common in males because men use tobacco snuff (naswar), he pointed out.
Dr Sher Mohammad said environment was important not only in prevention of other diseases, but also cancer. “If cancer in the region between the rivers Oxus and Indus is to be prevented and detected early, then an environment conducive to education, particularly for women and children, must be established,” he said.
Dr Arab Saba said the situation of the environment endangering human lives in Afghanistan wasn’t different from rest of the South Asian countries as the war-ravaged country didn’t possess any mechanism to reverse the adverse effects of the environmental pollution.

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