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Title: Particulate air pollution and respiratory morbidity in Delhi, India
Author: Akbar, Sameer
ISNI:       0000 0001 3403 6202
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 1997
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Like many developing country cities, rapid growth and urbanisation over the last few years has resulted in air pollution becoming a major cause for concern in Delhi. The levels of suspended particulate matter pollution recorded in Delhi are amongst the highest in the urbanised world. Research in developed countries has associated respirable suspended particulate matter with increases in mortality and morbidity in cities at daily ambient average concentrations, which often are an order of magnitude less than in Delhi. However, extrapolation of results from research conducted in the developed world to a city like Delhi are confounded by differences in various factors, including relationships between ambient concentration and personal exposure, time-activity patterns, and the baseline health status of the population. This study aims to estimate the magnitude of chronic and acute respiratory health damage which may be related to particulate air pollution, amongst the urban middle-class population in Delhi. In the winter (November - March) of 1994-95 a cross-sectional survey of about 3000 residents was conducted in three study areas that differed in long-term suspended particulate air pollution, as well as in land-use pattern. A Questionnaire was used to collect information on time-activity pattern, respiratory health, personal habits, and socio-economic status. A limited amount of monitoring for respirable particulates was also conducted, with additional data on air quality acquired from the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network. The overall average indoor and ambient respirable particulate concentrations during the study period were 185 /ig/m3 and 275 /xg/A respectively. The average respirable particulate concentration in travel modes (508 /¿g/m3) was much higher than indoors and ambient, with three-wheelers recording significantly higher levels than in cars and buses. However, measured indoor and ambient respirable particulate concentrations did not differ significantly between the study areas. Although chronic respiratory symptom prevalence did not vary systematically between the three areas, the overall crude prevalence was in excess of 40% for housewives, and 50% for office workers. Travel modes and time-activity pattern showed a strong association with chronic symptoms, with time-activity pattern also modifying the relationship between area of residence and symptom prevalence. Acute respiratory symptoms showed a strong temporal association with RSPM concentration, after adjusting for the effect of weather variables. A 10 /ig/m3 increase in estimated bi-weekly moving average respirable particulate concentration was found to increase the odds of reporting dry/wet cough by 2.1% and 2.5% for housewives and office workers respectively. Although subject to certain methodological and analytical limitations, this study shows that there is likely to be a significant health effect of particulate air pollution in Delhi. In conclusions, areas for further research are identified and policy implications discussed within the context of future urbanisation and development.
Supervisor: Ashmore, Mike Sponsor: Overseas Research Students Award ; BEIT Fellowship Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Air pollution & emissions & acid rain