New Delhi: A first-of-its-kind clinical ecotoxicology facility to investigate an increasing number of diseases resulting from exposure due to environmental toxins contaminated water, food, and air, became operational at the AIIMS. “The facility would be the nodal point for leading research in clinical ecotoxicology in the country,” AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said while expressing concern over the alarming increase in the rate of death and disability due to environmental toxicity.
“Pollution is responsible for a global public health crisis,” he added.
According to the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, contaminated water, air and soil are responsible for about nine million early deaths, which is about 16 percent of global deaths.
About 92 percent of these early deaths due to environmental toxicity occurs in low-income and middle-income countries, which include India.
Children are most affected by environmental toxins as their exposure to even low concentrations during intrauterine life and early childhood can result in life long physical and/or mental disabilities, it not death.
A first in the country, the facility will provide diagnostic and research services to all the clinical departments dealing with diseases due to ecotoxicity.
The term “ecotoxicology” is defined by Nature Research as an “interdisciplinary field that draws from knowledge and techniques in the fields of ecology and toxicology to study the effects of a toxic chemical or biological agents on biological organisms at the population, community or ecosystem level”.
“We proposed the term ‘clinical ecotoxicology’ for the clinical application of the ecotoxicological knowledge and techniques to the diagnosis and management of various disorders in the human individuals, populations and communities resulting from their exposure to toxic chemical or biological agents in their environments, which, inter alia, include their food, water, air etc,” he said.