The Scope

Video: Air pollution is causing fatal heart and lung disease, but possibly also Alzheimer's

The WHO finds that 92% of the world’s population lives in places with unacceptably high air pollution.

At least 600,000 Indians died from the effects of air pollution in 2012, a new study by the World Health Organisation has revealed. Exposure to fine particulate matter of the size width of 2.5 microns or less, commonly referred to as PM2.5, may have aggravated cardiovascular and lung disease leading to these deaths. Even this estimate, the authors of the study say, are conservative.

India ranks second in the most number of air pollution deaths after China and eighth in the number of deaths per 100,000 people due to ambient air pollution.

ALRI: acute lower respiratory disease; COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; IHD: ischaemic heart disease
ALRI: acute lower respiratory disease; COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; IHD: ischaemic heart disease

The WHO released on Monday confirmed that 92% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution levels exceeded acceptable limits. At least 3 million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Its also finds that in 2012, 11% of all global deaths or 6.5 million deaths were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together. Of these, 90% occurred in low- and middle-income countries, with the heaviest burden in south-east Asia and the western Pacific.

But there is also a possible link between dirty air and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom have found millions of magnetite particles in 37 human brain tissue samples collected from pollution hot spots around the world.

These magnetite particles examined, the researchers say, have the same appearance they have as in the atmosphere and so have not been dissolved or broken down in anyway. Magnetite is an iron oxide associated with neurodegenerative diseases

The study made public earlier in September does not claim a definite link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s but offers evidence that magnetite from air pollution, particularly traffic pollution, can get into the brain, and warrants more study.

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There air more indications of the serious impacts of air pollution on mental health. Research published in June in BMJ Open has linked air pollution to increased mental illness in children. The study that examined pollution exposure of more than 500,000 children under the age of 18 in Sweden showed that relatively small increases in air pollution were associated with a significant rise in in psychiatric problems.

The WHO has more alarming statistics on the impact of air pollution, particularly in India – 1.4 million people in India die pre-mature deaths due to air pollution. This translates to one air pollution death every 23 seconds.

These statistics have inspired a rather dismal awareness campaign video by Hawa Badlo, a people's movement that operates out of Gurgaon, projecting how a family might live in a toxic 2030 of we don't act to clean up out air now.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.