Short term exposures to air pollutants does not result in fatal outcomes and the effects are usually mild and reversible, said Padma Shri Awardee Dr A Marthanda Pillai National President and Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal Honorary Secretary General Indian Medical Association in a joint statement.
The experts said that short term exposure is only hazardous to children, elderly and individuals with chronic disease of respiratory or circulatory system.
Air quality index is a composite indicator of air quality developed by Environment Protection Agency, USA.
In the past Obama has visited Countries with high levels of air pollution such as Afghanistan, Poland, Senegal, India, China, Brazil, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan has similar pollution levels. Obama has also visited Agra during his last visit to India which had substantial particulate matter in ambient air.
The latest air quality data by Environmental Protection Agency shows that air quality in various parts USA had exceeded the cutoff values for adverse health effects. In California air quality had reached as high as 473. In Delhi the AQI has been ranging between 250-300.
Yearly average of New Delhi and Beijing are almost similar and pollution has not grown to a scale of visible public problem in New Delhi unlike Beijing. Pakistan has the highest polluted regions such as Peshawar and Rawalpindi compared to all other cities in the world, added Dr. Dr Muhammed Shaffi, a public health expert.
" The pollution levels in Delhi are low compared to Beijing and many other countries. Even though USA have very low pollutant levels the air quality index has touched unhealthy levels in some periods. Therefore it is unscientific to assume a different effect in Indian cities as short term exposure will have only minor effects on a healthy Individual. It's unfair to link air pollution in Delhi with a possible health hazard for Obama" said Dr Aggarwal.
However those who are living in Delhi, may have long term exposure effects of pollution and they need to safeguard themselves.
Air Quality Index of 0-50 is good; 51-100 is moderate; 101-150 is unhealthy to sensitive groups and 151-200 is unhealthy to all.
An AQI of 250-300 is very unhealthy and can cause significant aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. It can have significant increase in respiratory effects in general population. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.
An AQI of 300-500 is hazardous to health. It can cause serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. It is linked with serious risk of respiratory effects in general population. Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors; people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low.