Characteristics of the Ozone pollution and its health effects in India
Surface level ozone is one of the important air pollutants. It is formed by the reaction of atmospheric pollutants in the presence of sunlight. The surface ozone shows temporal and spatial variations in the country. The levels are maximum during summer and minimum in monsoon seasons. The levels are maximum during daytime and minimum during night or early morning. In India, surface ozone levels are above the recommended threshold of 8 hour average of 100 μg/m3 for air quality monitoring at various stations. Exposure to high levels of surface ozone causes number of health problems. Short term exposure causes drop in lung function measures and it also affects the lung’s mucociliary function thereby increasing the susceptibility to bacterial infections. With increase in surface ozone levels, there is likelihood of an increase in risk of hospital admissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) and the number of cardiovascular and respiratory deaths. In children, increase in ozone concentration is associated with increase in hospital admissions and unscheduled asthma medications. The high levels of surface ozone are becoming a threat to people's health and so surface ozone levels have to be monitored and steps taken to reduce their levels.
Outdoor air pollution is a major environmental health problem. Exposure to air pollution leads to increased risk of respiratory diseases like acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases; and cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke and ischemic heart disease. According to World Health Organization, one in eight total global deaths occurs as a result of exposure to air pollution. Over 3.5 million people die each year from outdoor air pollution. Low- and middle-income countries, especially the Western Pacific and South-East Asian countries account for about 88% of those premature deaths. According to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), in India, the cost of air pollution to society in 2010 was estimated at US$ 0.5 trillion. Ozone is one of the air pollutants of major concern globally. Higher levels of ozone in the air can affect human health, leading to breathing problems, asthma exacerbation and reduced lung function. Several studies have also shown that daily mortality and heart diseases increase with exposure to high levels of ozone.
This paper finds that surface level ozone is an important air pollutant causing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Its levels are above the recommended threshold at various stations in India. Therefore, there is a need to monitor it and take steps to reduce its levels.
This paper was originally published in International Journal of Medical Public Health. ; Vol7(1): 56-60p. 2017