"Not many people know about it, but the damage done to your lungs by one mosquito coil is equivalent to the damage done by 100 cigarettes. This was according to a recent study conducted in Malaysia," said Chest Research Foundation director Sandeep Salvi.
He was speaking at the conference 'Air Pollution and Our Health', organised by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) along with the Indian Council for Medical Research and the Indian Medical Association.
Salvi said there is a lack of awareness about the impact of air pollution on human health.
Pointing out the "lack of research culture" among Indian doctors, Salvi said that indoor air pollution too is a health risk factor.
Participants at the event, which included doctors and health researchers, also spoke about vehicular air pollution in the capital.
According to estimates, about 55 percent of Delhi's population lives within 500 metres from main roads - and is, therefore, prone to a variety of physical disorders.
"The vehicular pollution is a major concern for the environment. The rising incidents of genetic disorder has a lot to do with air pollution. India loses one million children under five because of respiratory problems every year," said Sanjeev Bagai, the chief executive officer of Batra Hospitals.
He said industries also contribute to the air pollution and these need to be shifted out of the capital.
US NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
National Institutes of Health
"Burning mosquito coils indoors generates smoke that can control mosquitoes effectively. This practice is currently used in numerous households in Asia, Africa, and South America. However, the smoke may contain pollutants of health concern. We conducted the present study to characterize the emissions from four common brands of mosquito coils from China and two common brands from Malaysia. We used mass balance equations to determine emission rates of fine particles (particulate matter < 2.5 microm in diameter; PM(2.5)), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), aldehydes, and ketones. Having applied these measured emission rates to predict indoor concentrations under realistic room conditions, we found that pollutant concentrations resulting from burning mosquito coils could substantially exceed health-based air quality standards or guidelines. Under the same combustion conditions, the tested Malaysian mosquito coils generated more measured pollutants than did the tested Chinese mosquito coils. We also identified a large suite of volatile organic compounds, including carcinogens and suspected carcinogens, in the coil smoke. In a set of experiments conducted in a room, we examined the size distribution of particulate matter contained in the coil smoke and found that the particles were ultrafine and fine. The findings from the present study suggest that exposure to the smoke of mosquito coils similar to the tested ones can pose significant acute and chronic health risks. For example, burning one mosquito coil would release the same amount of PM(2.5) mass as burning 75-137 cigarettes. The emission of formaldehyde from burning one coil can be as high as that released from burning 51 cigarettes."