Air pollution

Ajaib S Kochar/WHO

Air pollution is a major environmental health problem affecting everyone. It occurs when the environment is contaminated by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Stoves at home, tobacco smoke, motor vehicles, industrial facilities and forest fires are common sources of air pollution.

It is responsible for exacerbation of asthma and increase in respiratory infections especially in children. Increased morbidity and mortality, due to cardiovascular diseases including stroke, chronic respiratory diseases and cancers have also been attributed to air pollution. These facts indicate that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

Acknowledging that air pollution is a serious health hazard, the Government of India has formulated a steering committee to deliberate on health effects of air pollution and extend recommendations, both in the area of ambient and household air pollution.