Module on ‘Air Pollution and Ayurveda’ by Dr. Mangalagowri V Rao

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AIR POLLUTION AND AYURVEDA

 

Introduction

Air is one of the most essential constituents in the environment for all the beings. Even in Ayurveda great emphasis is laid upon both physiological and environmental Vayu.

विसर्गोदानविक्षेपैः सोमसूर्यानिला यथा | धारयन्ति जगद्देहं कफपित्तानिलास्तथा|| Su. Su. 21/8

Acharya Sushruta emphasises upon the role of Sun, moon and wind in the causation of seasons in the macrocosm as Vata, Pitta and Kapha maintain the microcosm. Description about normal and vitiated air in the environmental has been given in context of Vatakalakaliya Adhyaya in Charaka Samhita Sutra sthana along with its effect on the body as well as surrounding region. Description of vitiated air is also given in the context of Janapadodhvamsa in Vimana sthana in Charaka Samhita. In Sushruta Samhita description regarding features and impact of Vishadushita Vayu is found in Kalpa sthana.

Functions of natural air in the environment (Charaka Samhita Sutra Sthana 12/8)

  • तद्यथा-धरणीधारणं –Maintenance of the earth
  • ज्वलनोज्ज्वालनम् – helps in combustion
  • आदित्यचन्द्रनक्षत्रग्रहगणानांसन्तानगतिविधानं – movements of the galaxy
  • सृष्टिश्चमेघानाम्- formation of clouds
  • अपांविसर्गः- precipitation
  • प्रवर्तनंस्रोतसां – flowing of rivers
  • पुष्पफलानांचाभिनिर्वर्तनम् – blooming of flowers and maturing of fruits
  • उद्भेदनंचौद्भिदानाम् – germination of seeds
  • ऋतूनांप्रविभागः- Classification of seasons
  • विभागोधातूनां – classification of elements
  • धातुमानसंस्थानव्यक्तिः- manifestation of Panchamahabhutas
  • बीजाभिसंस्कारः – germination of seeds and
  • शस्याभिवर्धनम – growth of plants
  • विक्लेदोपशोषणे अवैकारिकविकारश्चेति- Brining about dryness and hardness and transformation everywhere

Pollution occurs due to following factors

Respiration

  • Human beings
  • Animals and plants at night

Combustion

  • Coal, fuel, gas, oil,
  • Burning of fire crackers

Vehicles, industries

  • Dust, fumes, vapours, gases

Decomposition

  • Organic matter from plant and animals sources.

 

 

Natural purification of air

Wind: Dilutes and takes away impurities, Prevents accumulation of pollutants

Sun light: Helps to oxidise the matter, Kills the pathogenic bacteria

Rain: Settles the suspended impurities, Reduces gaseous impurities

Vegetation: Produce oxygen during photosynthesis, thus stabilizes carbon dioxide.

Changes occurring in occupied room

Chemical Changes occur with gradual increase in carbon dioxide concentration.

Physical changes like raise in temperature, humidity along with admixture of Body odours due to bad breath, perspiration scents etc. occurs. Pollution is caused due to pathogenic bacteria and viruses during exhalation.

Health impact

Physical

  • Feeling of suffocation or discomfort
  • Headache
  • Infection due to droplet infection

Mental

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Reduces efficiency of occupants

 

Indices of thermal comfort

Factors like air temperature, humidity, cooling power, effective temperature, corrected effective temperature are used to measure thermal comfort level. Mcardle’s maximum allowable sweat rate is another index for measuring thermal comfort.

Factors considered during measurement: Obtained by combination of dry and wet bulb air temperature velocity, and mean radiant air temperature under different work intensity

Air pollution

  • Inescapable consequence of air in environment of human activities is known as air pollution. The presence of gases, mixture of gases and particulate matter in the surrounding atmosphere in concentrations that cause impact on health, safety or comfort of humans or hazardous to plants and animals is air pollution.

Classification of Air pollutants

Based on source of pollution

  • Primary air pollutants: Source of air pollution is industry, automobile, exhaust or wind contaminated with dust.
  • Secondary air pollutants: The air pollution produced due to chemical interaction of primary pollutants with the natural contents like oxygen, water. Ex. Ozone

Based on type of pollutant:

  • Gaseous air pollutants: Pollutants that are present in gaseous or vapour form which can pass through the filters.
  • Particulate air pollutants: Pollutants present in solid or liquid state suspended in the atmosphere. They range from 1-2 micrometre to 100 micrometre.

Air pollutants and their health impacts

  • Respirable particles: Respiratory disorders like allergic rhinitis, Asthma
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO): Difficulty breathe, aggravation and onset of Respiratory disorders like allergic rhinitis, Asthma
  • Oxides of Nitrogen (NO2): Irritation in respiratory tract, reduced lung immunity, brochial sensitivity resulting in bronchospasm and constriction resulting in exacerbation of Asthma, allergic rhinitis
  • Sulphur Dioxide (SO2): Aggravation of Asthma, irritation in respiratory tract, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorders, death in case of severe cases
  • Formaldehyde: Watery eyes, burning sensation in nose, throat, eyes, cough, wheeze, skin irritation
  • Ozone: Cough, discomfort in chest, bronchospasm and constriction, reduced exercise capacity, irritation in respiratory tract
  • Asbestos: Cancers, asbestosis, Cough, lung function impairments
  • Lead: Impairment of neurological functions, psychological impairment, anaemia

 

Causes and effects of air pollution as per Ayurveda

कदाचिदव्यापन्नेष्वपि ऋतुषु कृत्याभिशापरक्षःक्रोधाधर्मैरुपध्वस्यन्ते जनपदाः, विषौषधिपुष्पगन्धेन वा वायुनोपनीतेनाक्रम्यते यो देशस्तत्र दोषप्रकृत्यविशेषेण कासश्वासवमथुप्रतिश्यायशिरोरुग्ज्वरैरुपतप्यन्ते ||१९||

Sushruta Samhita Sutra sthana 6/19

Deviation in the season, impact of curse, anger of divine, and improper acts result in destruction of ‘Janapada’ large community/ Features of Smelling of poisonous flower are cough, dyspnoea, vomiting, rhinorrhoea, headache, fever

Features of poisonous air

धूमेऽनिले वा विषसम्प्रयुक्ते खगाः श्रमार्ताः प्रपतन्ति भूमौ |
कासप्रतिश्यायशिरोरुजश्च भवन्ति तीव्रा नयनामयाश्च ||१६||

Sushruta Samhita Kalpa Sthana 3/16

The air with poisonous smoke make the birds tired and they fall on ground. Further, it results cough, rhinorrhoea, headache, acute eye problems

Features of vitiated/polluted Vayu that is harmful for health

तत्र वातमेवंविधमनारोग्यकरं विद्यात्; तद्यथा-यथर्तुविषममतिस्तिमितमतिचलमतिपरुषमतिशीतमत्युष्णमतिरूक्षमत्यभिष्यन्दिनमतिभैरवारावमतिप्रतिहत- परस्परगतिमतिकुण्डलिनमसात्म्यगन्धबाष्पसिकतापांशुधूमोपहतमिति (१); Charaka Samhita Vimana Sthana 3/7 (1)

  • Season is deviated
  • Air devoid of movement
  • Wind blowing at great velocity
  • Very rough
  • Very cold
  • Very hot
  • Very dry
  • Highly humid
  • Very fierce
  • Wind whorl/stormy
  • Obnoxious odour
  • Containing water vapour
  • Containing sand, stones and smoke
  • Concept of Vayu Shodhana in Ayurveda

लाक्षाहरिद्रातिविषाभयाब्दहरेणुकैलादलवक्रकुष्ठम् |
प्रियङ्गुकां चाप्यनले निधाय धूमानिलौ चापि विशोधयेत ||१७||
Sushruta Samhita Kalpa Sthana 3/17

  • Karpura
  • Devadaru
  • Dhupa
  • Chandana
  • Srivasa
  • Sarja
  • Agaru
  • Nimba
  • Somaraji
  • Gandhaka
  • Guggulu
  • Rajika
  • Shweta Sarshapa
  • Havana (sacrifice) is performed with above mentioned drugs purify air

Natural disasters like Tsunamis, earth quakes, landslides as an impact of vitiated air (Charaka Samhita Sutra Sthana 12/8)

  • प्रकुपितस्यखल्वस्य लोकेषु चरतः कर्माणीमानि भवन्ति; तद्यथा- The vitiated air produces following impact on the Macrocosm/Universe
  • शिखरिशिखरावमथनम्-Breaking peak of mountain
  • उन्मथनमनोकहानाम्-uprooting of trees
  • उत्पीडनंसागराणाम्- Disturbances in oceans
  • उद्वर्तनंसरसां – Over flowing of lakes
  • प्रतिसरणमापगानाम्- Changing the course of rivers
  • आकम्पनंच भूमेः- Earth quakes
  • आधमनमम्बुदानां- Thunders
  • नीहारनिर्ह्रादपांशुसिकतामत्स्यभेकोरगक्षाररुधिराश्माशनिविसर्गः- hit by meteorite, shower of sand, fish, frog, reptiles, alkali, blood and gravel
  • व्यापादनंच षण्णामृतूनां- Change in the seasons
  • शस्यानामसङ्घातः- Non productivity of plants
  • भूतानांचोपसर्गः- Spread of epidemics among beings
  • भावानांचाभावकरणं,
  • चतुर्युगान्तकराणांमेघसूर्यानलानिलानां विसर्गः- bringing about cloud, sun, fire, and wind that would destroy all four ages
  • सहि भगवान् प्रभवश्चाव्ययश्च, भूतानां भावाभावकरः- Vayu is god and responsible for good and bad among the beings.

Features of Northern wind

उत्तरो मारुतः स्निग्धो मृदुर्मधुर एव च |कषायानुरसः शीतो दोषाणां चाप्रकोपणः ||२८||
तस्माच्च प्रकृतिस्थानां क्लेदनो बलवर्धनः |क्षीणक्षयविषार्तानां विशेषेण तु पूजितः ||२९||Su. Su 20/28-29

  • Properties: Sweet, Astringent in taste and soft, cold and unctuous in nature.
  • Effects on health: Does not vitiate Doshas, hydrates body and enhances Bala (strength)
  • Best for emaciation, suffering from effects of poison

Features of Southern wind

मधुरश्चाविदाही च कषायानुरसो लघुः |दक्षिणो मारुतः श्रेष्ठश्चक्षुष्यो बलवर्धनः ||२५||
रक्तपित्तप्रशमनो न च वातप्रकोपणः | Sushruta Samhita Sutra Sthana 20/25-26

  • Properties: Sweet, astringent in taste, not causing burning sensation and light in nature
  • Effect on health: Good for eyes, promotes strength, alleviates Rakta pitta (bleeding tendency), does not aggravate Vata

Features of Eastern wind

पूर्वः समधुरः स्निग्धो लवणश्चैव मारुतः |गुरुर्विदाहजननो रक्तपित्ताभिवर्धनः ||२३||
क्षतानां विषजुष्टानां व्रणिनः श्लेष्मलाश्च ये |तेषामेव विशेषेण सदा रोगविवर्धनः ||२४||
वातलानां प्रशस्तश्च श्रान्तानां कफशोषिणाम् | Sushruta Samhita Sutra Sthana 20/23-24

  • Properties: Sweet and salty in taste, unctuous and heavy in nature and causes burning sensation in the body
  • Effect on health: Aggravates injuries, poisons, wounds and Kaphaja disorders.
  • It aggravates Kapha and most of the disorders
  • It is good for Vataja disorders, and emaciation due to Kapha (Kapha shoshi)

Features of Western winds

विशदो रूक्षपरुषः खरः स्नेहबलापहः ||२६||पश्चिमो मारुतस्तीक्ष्णः कफमेदोविशोषणः |
सद्यः प्राणक्षयकरः शोषणस्तु शरीरिणाम् ||२७|| Sushruta Samhita Sutra Sthana 20/27

  • Properties: Fast blowing, dry, rough in nature, fierce
  • Effects on Health: Kaphamedohara, reduces unctuousness in the body and Bala (strength), instantly reduces Prana (energy) and brings about emaciation

Measures of prevention of air pollution

  • Control in the form of use of four stroke engines, timely servicing, pooling vehicles, use of public transport etc. for reducing air pollution.
  • Replacement: Use of deleaded petrol, or use of less toxic material in manufacture process etc.
  • Dilution: Green belts
  • Legislation: The Air Pollution (Prevention and Control) Act 1981
  • International measures: WHO has labs to monitor air pollution levels at different places. In India a lab is established at Nagpur

 

 

Links for further reading

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1551700/ (Health Effects of Air Pollution)
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26761628/ (Pulmonary health effects of air pollution)
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20819250/ (Respiratory health effects of indoor air pollution)
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21864219/ (Health effects of particulate air pollution: A review of epidemiological evidence)
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24174304/ (The health effects of exercising in air pollution)
  6. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4684-1698-5_16 (Indices of Air Quality)
  7. https://www.ijhsr.org/IJHSR_Vol.9_Issue.3_March2019/34.pdf (Ayurvedic Method for Prevention and Management of Environmental Toxicant induces Respiratory Disease)
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32456250/ (Effects of the Use of Air Purifier on Indoor Environment and Respiratory System among Healthy Adults)
  9. http://literature.awgp.org/akhandjyoti/2006/Jan_Feb/v1.VedicSolutionPureAir (Vedic solutions to modern problems: Purification of air)
  10. http://literature.awgp.org/akhandjyoti/2003/Mar_Apr/v1.ScientificAspectsofYajna (Some scientific aspects of Yajna environmental effects)
  11. http://ijirse.in/docs/Sep14/IJIRSE140910.pdf (Effect of Bhaishajya Maha Yajna on Human Energy Field and Environment)

Multiple Choice Questions

  1. The features of Vishadushita Vayu as per Acharya Sushruta are
  2. Kasa, Shiroruja, Pratishyaya, Tivra Nayanamaya
  3. Udarashula, Twak Vikara, Kasa
  4. Kasa, Atisara, Shwasa, Udarda
  5. All the above
  6. Features of wind blowing in southern direction, as per Acharya Sushruta
  7. Sadya prana kshayakara, Shoshana
  8. Chakshushya, Balavardhana, Raktapitta Prashamana
  9. Kledana, Balavardhana, Kshatakshina shosha vishartanam pujita
  10. None of the above
  11. Following drugs are burnt in air for purification of air
  12. Laksha, Ativisha, Haridra, Abda
  13. Laksha, Ativisha, Haratala, Abda
  14. Laksha, Ativisha, Haridra, Manashila
  15. All the above
  16. Features of smelling poisonous flower as per Ayurveda are
  17. Kasa, Shwasa, Vamathu, Atisara
  18. Kasa, Shwasa, Katishula, Pratishyaya
  19. Kasa, Shwasa, Vamathu, Pratishyaya
  20. Kasa, Shwasa, Apabahuka, Pratishyaya
  21. The features of Vikrita vata manifested in environment are
  22. Earth quakes, over flowing of lakes, breaking of mountain
  23. Change in seasons, spread of epidemics
  24. Breaking peak of mountain, disturbances in ocean
  25. All the above
  26. Natural purification of air takes place due to
  27. Wind, sunlight, rain, vegetation
  28. Air conditioning, exhaust fan
  29. Wind, sunlight, plenum ventilation
  30. Both a and c
  31. Following are pollutants in air
  32. Sulphur dioxide
  33. Ozone
  34. Formaldehyde
  35. All the above
  36. Carbon monoxide in air leads to following health effects
  37. Difficulty to breath
  38. Aggravation and onset of Respiratory disorders like allergic rhinitis, Asthma
  39. both a and b
  40. Fever, headache
  41. Pollution control measures include
  42. Green belts
  43. Permitting establishment of factories in residential area
  44. Mining activities within city limits
  45. Both b and c
  46. Western wind has following features
  47. Snigdha, Jalamshayukta, Mridu, Balakara
  48. Vishada, Ruksha, Parusha, Khara, Snehabalapaha
  49. Snigdha, Jalamshayukta, Parusha
  50. None of the above

 

Answer Keys

  1. a
  2. b
  3. a
  4. c
  5. d
  6. a
  7. d
  8. c
  9. a
  10. b

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