Tobacco products carry environmental costs


Tobacco products are not just a health threat. Growing tobacco and manufacturing tobacco products has serious environmental consequences.  A recent WHO report titled Tobacco and its environmental impact: An overview has highlighted these. Demand for wood to cure tobacco leaves, make rolling paper, and package tobacco products, leads to deforestation. Growing tobacco also depletes soil fertility.

Greenhouse gases are emitted from plants manufacturing tobacco products. Toxic residue from tobacco smoke lingers in the environment. Finally, between 340 and 680 million kg of waste tobacco products litters the world each year. This waste contains over 7000 toxic chemicals, including known human carcinogens. 

India uses up more groundwater than US and China together

Around 29% of the country’s blocks are in the ‘over-exploited’ category, that is, groundwater withdrawal is more than the possible recharge. This alarming fact was reported on the website of the International Association of Hydrogeologists. The indiscriminate withdrawal, has led India to show an annual groundwater usage that is more than the combined usage by the US and China.

Agricultural production over the years in India has mostly been fuelled by heavy use of groundwater. If the current trends continue, by 2030 nearly 60% of Indian aquifers will be in a critical condition. This will put around 25% of the agricultural production at risk.

 Air pollution may cause DNA damage in kids


Children and teenagers exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution may be at an increased risk of a specific DNA damage called ‘telomere shortening’, a new study warns. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes. Without telomeres, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job. The researchers found that as the exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – air pollutants in motor vehicle exhaust – increased, telomere length decreased.

The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, adds to previous evidence that air pollution causes oxidative stress, which can damage lipids, proteins and DNA.

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