Of the host of unpleasant news we were subjected to in 2016, Delhi's worsening air pollution was among those which worried us the most. At one point this year, the condition declined to a level where a health emergency was declared in the national capital.
Respiratory problems were reported, heart diseases were aggravated, people felt a burning sensation in eyes. Turns out, that wasn't all.
According to surveys conducted by many healthcare bodies in Delhi, the city's men have pollution to blame for hair loss, low sperm count and declining libido.
Going by a report in the Times Of India, 63% of Delhi men (aged 30-40) have a sperm count of less than 10 million/ml, just half of the national average of 20 million/ml, according to a AIIMS report in 2013.
A survey by Dalmia Medicare in 2016 suggested that in January, the percentage of men with a low sperm count was 14%, which rose to 27% in November. While stress and smoking were major factors that caused the deficiency, pollution also had a big role to play.
Considering studies done over the years, it is not just men who are at major risk. Even women who are more exposed to pollution are more likely to have fertility problems than women who live in a less polluted environment.
Women living close to major roads are 5% more likely to report primary infertility, an increase in risk that wasn't statistically significant, meaning it might have been due to chance, a report in Reuters said.
Delhi men also scored poorly on testosterone tests with 60% of those tested falling in the lower range -- below 300-350 (normal range is 300-1200ng/dl). A doctor at the Dalmiya Medicare blamed stress, smoking, increased air pollution as some of the factors for this trend.
The increasing problem of baldness among men is also majorly related to the deteriorating air quality in the city.
As per a study conducted in 2008 at University of London, the onset of male baldness is related to environmental factors among other things.
"We think any pollutant that can get into the bloodstream or into the skin and into the hair follicle could cause some stress to it and impair the ability of the hair to make a fibre, The Telagraph quoted Mike Philpott, from the school of medicine at Queen Mary University of London, as saying.
Soon after Diwali this year, a thick blanket of smog settled over the Delhi-NCR region. Crop burning by farmers in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab, fireworks on Diwali and vehicle emissions in the area were considered the major reasons behind the declining air quality.
The PM (particulate matter) 10 levels reached a massive 999, more than 10 times higher than the safe limit. The state government, in November, shut 1,800 public primary schools in India's capital to protect children from exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution.
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