Lung disease second biggest killer in India

A report published by the Indian Council of Medical Research has revealed that COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the second biggest killer in India after ischaemic heart disease.

Over the past 26 years, pulmonary diseases have surpassed six other major causes of death in India, claiming more lives than diabetes, malaria, tuberculosis and breast cancer combined. Health experts consider air pollution as the most significant reason for COPD, attributing around 54 per cent deaths to it, followed by tobacco smoking.


Environmental agencies classify air pollution that is responsible for COPD as the mixture of solid and liquid particles in the air. These particles are released in the form of dirt, dust, and smoke and produced by cars, burning of fossil fuels and natural gases, construction work, etc.

The construction boom across the country increasing the use of concrete has contributed to the deterioration of air quality. As per statistics, 51,000 new vehicles are rolled out to the roads every day, thereby releasing more harmful gases in the environment.

Dr Sai Praveen, a pulmonologist, said, “The main reason for COPD is the tobacco exposure from smoking. Hookah use is prevalent in our city, and even that affects the lungs to a large extent. Additionally, an increasing number of women have been reporting suffering from COPD, mostly due to the gases emitted by cooking fuels and also passive smoking.”

“It takes a while before lung ailments become evident. I believe that India is going to see many more cases of COPD in the coming years,” he added.

Disability-adjusted life years is an indicator of disease burden for those suffering from COPD across the world. According to the Public Health Foundation of India, India is third on the list of countries most affected by COPD — there has been a 54 per cent rise in India’s share of COPD over the past 26 years.

Experts suggest that the most effective way to curb COPD is by checking the continuous contamination of air. This can be implemented by capturing pollutants at the source. “Different industries emit different types of pollutants. This emission can be minimised by using devices like fume extractors, dust collectors, wet and dry scrubbers, etc,” said Mr Parth Pandey, a pollution engineer.