Tuesday August 09, 2022

Air pollution causing 9m deaths worldwide

By Our Correspondent
July 22, 2018

Islamabad : In recent times, the effects of air pollution on health has attracted increasing interest ,with international institutions providing growing mortality and morbidity data. The latest annual estimation of deaths attributable to air pollution worldwide is 9 million deaths.

“These deaths are related to cardiac diseases such as myocardial infarction or congestive heart failure, neurological events such as stroke, lung diseases and cancer,” Prof. Dr. Arsalan Ahmad, Consultant Neurologist at Shifa International Hospital (SIH) stated while quoting the World Federation of Neurology on the occasion of this year’s World Brain Day (WBD). The topic of this year’s WBD is ‘Clean Air for Healthy Brain,’ and the objective is to raise awareness on the influence of air pollution on neurological diseases.

SIH, together with the Pakistan Society of Neurology (PSN) Saturday organized an awareness campaign to mark World Brain Day here on Saturday. Addressing the participants, Dr. Arsalan said, long-term exposure to relatively high levels of certain chemicals in workplace air has resulted in many examples of nervous system damage over the past century. In addition to air pollution, occupational and residential air pollution and water pollution may also be an emerging issue.

Dr. Arsalan discussed the impacts of air pollution on brain health. He said recent publications have shown evidence for air pollution as a stroke risk. The recent Global Burden of Disease study, for example, has investigated data from 1990 to 2013 in 188 countries. It demonstrated that air pollution contributes to up to 30% to the burden of stroke. The adverse effects of air pollution are most important in low and medium-income countries and for vulnerable patients with other vascular risk factors or a prior history of stroke. Stroke is the leading cause of disability, the second cause of death in people older than 60 years, one of the main reasons for hospitalization, and a risk factor for dementia as well.

The list of possible air pollution and environmental pollution adverse effects is increasing. Neuro-developmental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases, possibly also neuroinflammatory diseases, are discussed among others as having a potential association with polluted air, he added.

Dr. Arsalan, in his concluding remarks, said that air pollution and environmental pollution is a potentially modifiable risk factor for some cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.