Study links PM 2.5 pollution to prevalence of anemia

Long-term exposure to fine airborne particulate matter – PM 2.5 pollutants – may increase the incidence of anemia in women of reproductive age through systemic inflammation, a study has found.

According to the study ‘Reducing the burden of anemia among Indian women of reproductive age with clean-air targets’, if India meets the latest clean-air targets, the prevalence of anemia will drop from 53 per cent to 39.5 per cent if 186 districts are taken down. The national target is 35 percent. India has the highest prevalence of anemia among women of reproductive age (15-45 years) in the world.

The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability in late August, was conducted by researchers from institutions and organizations in India, the US and China, including IIT-Delhi and IIT-Bombay.

The study found that for every ten microgram/cubic meter air increase in ambient PM2.5 exposure, the average prevalence of anemia among such women increased by 7.23 percent. “Our results suggest that the transition to clean energy will accelerate India’s progress towards the goal of an ‘anaemia-free’ mission,” said the study, which considered data from the National Family Health Survey-4 and National Sample Survey Office. PM 2.5 levels in different districts.

Among PM 2.5 sources, sulfate and black carbon are more associated with anemia than organics and dust, the study found, with industry being the largest sectoral contributor. This was followed by unorganized sector, domestic sources, power sector, road dust, agricultural waste burning and transport sector.

Anemia, a major contributor to the global disease burden, is characterized by a decrease in the concentration of hemoglobin in the blood and is often accompanied by a decrease in red blood cells. As a result, the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood decreases.

Women of reproductive age may suffer from regular iron deficiency due to menstruation and are therefore particularly at risk of developing anemia (mild to severe). Dietary iron deficiency is another major cause of anemia. Other contributing factors include genetic disorders, parasitic infections and inflammation from infections and chronic diseases. The World Health Organization has set a global target to halve anemia among women of reproductive age by 2053.

Anemia is very high in India. The National Family and Health Survey 2015-2016 (NFHS-4) reported that 53.1% of WRA and 58.5% of children under the age of five were anemic.

India has launched a program under the Padran Abhiyan to make the country ‘anemia-free’ and has set a target of reducing anemia to below 35% in WRA by 2022. Because an iron-deficient diet is the primary cause of a large burden of anemia. , the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is engaged in increasing the iron intake of the population.

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