Indoor air pollution is causing more deaths than outdoor air pollution and needs to be addressed with an integrated approach to increase the access to clean fuel in the country, leading environment experts have said. They called to form a community of researchers who can come together to draw a roadmap for reducing air pollution in the country, particularly in the national capital, which has been rated as the most-polluted city in the world by WHO.
Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Your Breath Your Health’ at the American Center in New Delhi, Lesley Onyon, Region Advisor, WHO, said that approximately 40 per cent of all the diseases burden can be attributed to household air pollution. She said that the government needs to improve the access to cleaner fuels like LPG and CNG to deal with indoor air pollution as more than 60 per cent of the household are still dependent on solid fuel combustion.
“As much as 81 per cent of the rural households use dirty fuels like wood for cooking, and in urban areas it is 20 per cent, making the national average of 64 per cent. The government needs to take long-term measures to deal with air pollution in the country, which includes increasing access to cleaner fuel as 64 per cent of the households use solid fuel combustion as a primary source of cooking,” she said.
Onyon said that Health Ministry will have to play an effective role in reducing air pollution with strong coordination and integration of local and national health policies. The World Health Assembly in their resolution had highlighted the key role that health authorities needed to make in raising the awareness about the potential to save lives and reducing health costs if air pollution was to be addressed effectively.
The Health authorities should resolve for strong cooperation between different sectors and integration of health concerns into all regional, local and national health policies,” she said. Parthaa Basu, Indian Director and South Asian Liaison, Clean Air Asia, said that indoor air pollution is also caused by biological material and consumer products like mosquito repellents, incense sticks and deodorants.
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