Published in IJCP June 2018
Community health
Effect of Pollution on Health of People Living Near Landfill Sites in Delhi-NCR
June 04, 2018 | Kk Aggarwal, Aniruddha Sharma, Rahul Manav

Introduction: Pollution has become a major public health problem because of its impact on human health. Landfills are the most commonly used methods for disposing municipal solid waste. But, solid waste as a source of environmental pollution has been relatively under-discussed. To the best of our knowledge, there is no study available in India, which has analyzed the implications of pollution on a large number of health parameters. Aims: The study was conducted to compare the health of people living in close proximity to landfill sites (within 2 km) to those living in non-landfill areas (beyond 7 km) and also to find out any association between the living conditions on various health parameters in the study population. Materials and methods: An observational study was conducted jointly by Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dainik Bhaskar Group in association with Urja, a non-governmental organization (NGO). Three landfill sites in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) were selected for the study. People residing within 2 km of the three selected landfill sites formed the study group (n = 276). The control group (n = 252) included people residing beyond 7 km of the three landfill sites. An 8-member team visited all the six sites on different days and carried out the study. Height, weight, peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), abdominal circumference, pulse rate, blood pressure (BP), heart rate, blood (peripheral capillary) oxygen saturation (SpO2), the 6-minute walk test (6MWT), particular matter (PM)2.5 and PM10 were measured. Water samples were collected for analysis. Results: The levels of PM2.5 and PM10 were quite high in the landfill areas compared to the control group; 264 µg/m3 vs. 155 µg/m3; 320 µg/m3 vs. 172 µg/m3, respectively. Height was lower in the study group (159 cm vs. 164 cm) as also weight (63 kg vs. 71 kg). Participants in the study group had lower PEFR (315 L/min) in comparison to the control group (398 L/min). The study group also had reduced effort tolerance on 6MWT and lower SpO2. Water samples tested from the landfill sites also showed increased total dissolved solids (TDS), hardness and bicarbonate levels indicating ground water contamination. Conclusion: Compared to the control group, systolic and diastolic BP were found to be significantly higher, while height, weight, body mass index (BMI), PEFR, SpO2 (before and after 6MWT) were lower in the study group. Our study has only focused on observing the changes in health parameters due to exposure to pollution and does not attempt to identify a cause and effect association. Our observations are significant enough to consider a trial in a larger sample size. An extended study is being undertaken.