Breathing air pollution increases the risk of Type-2 Diabetes
A study by Indian researchers found that exposure to air pollutants can cause blood sugar levels to rise, increasing the risk of type-2 diabetes. The study tracked over 12,000 people in Delhi and Chennai from 2010 to 2017 and focused on PM2.5 pollution, tiny particles emitted by vehicles, factories, and power plants.
These particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and are linked to various diseases, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, and cancer.
Air pollution and diabetes
The researchers compared people's blood sugar levels to satellite data on air pollution levels. They found that those living in areas with higher PM2.5 pollution levels were more likely to have elevated blood sugar levels, suggesting a link between air pollution and type-2 diabetes development.
The findings are particularly concerning given India's severe air pollution problem. In November, Delhi's air pollution levels spiked to 100 times the World Health Organization's (WHO) safe limits, and Chennai's pollution levels are 6-8 times higher.
Over 100 million people in India live with diabetes, a chronic illness that is a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases. India accounts for 1 in 7 of all adults living with diabetes worldwide.
Hope for cleaner air
Despite the concerning findings, experts believe the study offers hope. Reducing air pollution could help address India's diabetes crisis and lessen the burden of other chronic diseases.
In 2021, the World Economic Forum launched the Alliance for Clean Air in collaboration with the Clean Air Fund. The Alliance unites business leaders to tackle air pollution along their value chains, aiming to create a future where everyone breathes clean air.