London, May 23 (IANS) Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), say researchers, adding that MS risk was 29 per cent higher among people residing in urbanised areas.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. Whilst MS can be diagnosed at any age, it frequently occurs between the ages of 20-40 and is more frequent in women.
Symptoms can change in severity daily and include fatigue, walking difficulty, numbness, pain and muscle spasms.
The study, presented at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Virtual Congress, detected a reduced risk for MS in individuals residing in rural areas that have lower levels of air pollutants known as particulate matter (PM).
According to the researchers, it is well recognised that immune diseases such as MS are associated with multiple factors, both genetic and environmental.
"We believe that air pollution interacts through several mechanisms in the development of MS and the results of this study strengthen that hypothesis," said study lead researcher Professor Roberto Bergamaschi from the IRCCS Mondino Foundation in Italy.
Particulate matter (PM) is used to describe a mixture of solid particles and droplets in the air and is divided into two categories.
PM10 includes particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres of smaller and PM2.5 which have a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or smaller.
Both PM10 and PM2.5 are major pollutants and are known to be linked to various health conditions, including heart and lung disease, cancer and respiratory issues.
The analysis was conducted in the winter, given that this is the season with the highest pollutant concentrations, in the north-western Italian region of Lombardy, home to over 547,000 people.
For the findings, the research team included over 900 MS patients within the region, and MS rates were found to have risen 10-fold in the past 50 years, from 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 1974 to almost 170 cases per 100,000 people today.
Whilst the huge increase can partly be explained by increased survival for MS patients, this sharp increase could also be explained by greater exposure to risk factors.
"In the higher risk areas, we are now carrying out specific analytical studies to examine multiple environmental factors possibly related to the heterogeneous distribution of MS risk", Professor Bergamaschi said.
New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Locust Control Offices (LCOs) on Friday conducted control operations at 15 locations in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Union Agriculture Ministry said, adding that no crop loss was reported.
Locust control operations were conducted at 10 locations in districts of Jaipur, Dausa, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Barmer, Chittorgarh, Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan) and Niwari and Shivpuri (Madhya Pradesh).
Besides, the Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Department also undertook control operations at 5 locations, one each in the Satna, Balaghat, Niwari, Raisen and Shivpuri districts.
As on May 28, a total of 377 spots covering 53,997 hectares have been covered since locust control operations started from April 11, the Ministry said in a statement.
Locust operations have been conducted in 11 districts of Rajasthan, 24 of Madhya Pradesh, three in Maharashtra, two each in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh and one in Punjab.
Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare Secretary, Sanjay Agarwal on Friday organised a meeting, via video conference, with the Principal Secretary, Agriculture, of all the states and UTs, said the statement.
All the states and UTs were informed about the latest status and control of locust attack and an an advisory was issued in respect of locusts to all the states/UTs.
A letter was issued on Wednesday by the Union Home Secretary to the Chief Secretaries of all the states/UTs giving necessary instructions to streamline the inter-state movement facility for the personnel engaged in locust control works.
The MHA has included hiring of vehicles/tractors with spray equipment for spraying of plant protection chemicals for pest control, hiring of water tankers, and purchase of plant protection chemicals for locust control in this and the norms related to the quantum of assistance will be limited to the actual expenditure incurred on these items. However, expenditure should not exceed 25 per cent of SDRF allocation for the year, said the statement.
As per FAOs Locust Status Bulletin of May 27, several successive waves of invasions can be expected until July in Rajasthan with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Odisha, followed by westward movements and a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoon. These movements will cease as swarms begin to breed and become less mobile. Swarms are less likely to reach south India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.