Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Interpretation of levels of various pollutants

Yesterday morning, the pollution levels in Asiad Complex, the place where I live, and in all other places in Delhi showed variable but severe high PM 2.5 and PM 10, high benzene levels, high nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels (in Anand Vihar) and normal ozone and sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels.

What do they mean?

High benzene levels:  Exposure to high levels of benzene has been associated with a higher risk of developing blood cancer acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The risk of developing a myeloid malignancy after benzene exposure appears to be dose-related and it is unknown whether there is any safe threshold for benzene exposure. Benzene in air 10 mg cu mm  = 3.13 ppm.  

Normal ammonia: Corrosive rhinitis results from exposure to a high concentration of irritating and soluble chemical gases, which can cause sufficient nasal inflammation that the mucosa can break down and ulcerate, similar to a chemical burn. Common culprits include substances with high water solubility and chemical reactivity, such as chlorine, sulfur dioxide, ammonia and formaldehyde .

Corrosive rhinitis can lead to permanent changes in physiologic functions of the nose, such as loss of olfaction. The entity “reactive upper-airways dysfunction syndrome” has been described after a single exposure to strong chemicals and is modeled on reactive airways dysfunction syndrome

Normal ozone, SO2 and high NO2

In Anand Vihar, NO2 levels were three times normal. (230)

NO2 and SO2 are products of combustion of fossil fuels, and both are airway irritants.

SO2 can cause symptoms of wheezing and chest tightness as well as frank bronchoconstriction in individuals with asthma.

Allergens, other than molds, can contribute to building-related symptoms. These include allergens from dust mites, cockroaches, rodents, and plant pollen (if drawn indoors from the immediate outdoor environment). Dander from domestic animals may also be carried from homes to work and school environments on clothing. Carpeting in workplaces can harbor allergen particles for long periods of time. The adverse effects of allergens can be augmented by coexposures such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and sulfur dioxide (SO2)

High PM 10 levels will damage the lungs

High PM <2.5 levels will get absorbed in the blood and will affect all the organs including heart and the brain.

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA

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