DEBAPRIYA MUKHERJEE, KOLKATA
The Lancet Commission reported that pollution is the world’s biggest environmental cause of poor health today, responsible for 9 million deaths a year and a large burden of non-communicable diseases, including respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological impairment. Actual death and suffering from various diseases may be higher because behaviour of many pollutants and their impacts are still not known because of our inability to measure them particularly in developing countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and many more. Air pollution results in a greater health burden than water, soil or occupational exposures. The regulatory authorities and people do not realise the magnitude of health problems, ecosystem collapse and natural calamities we are facing. Air pollution is most harmful followed by water pollution. Researchers all over the world have established links between pollution and dementia, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other health problems. In many states, train service is provided to carry patients suffering from all these diseases to other states for better treatment. Among them, diabetes has become the fastest growing disease, affecting over 420 million people worldwide according to the opinion of researchers. The possible causes of diabetes were thought to be an unhealthy diet, having a sedentary lifestyle and obesity, but the new research indicates that air pollution plays a crucial role by reducing insulin production and triggering inflammation and preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health. Children are also victims of diabetes, cardiac and respiratory problems globally. There is a need to tackle pollution by redesigning our water and air quality monitoring network to understand the scale of the challenge and to identify key hotspots. Once we understand the sources and behaviour of pollutants in environment, appropriate cleaner technologies and practices may be adopted to reduce the pollutants both, at point and non-point sources before they enter our environment. Attention must also be given to restore water bodies, wetlands and forests. Industrial development is a need in developing countries but not at the cost of environment.