Environmental Health in Punjab

First off, if people want to see more photographs of my time in Punjab, I will be uploading them onto Picasa, viewable here –

https://picasaweb.google.com/114409267904603432105

An update on the women’s reproductive health survey that I have also been working –

My first week in Punjab was mostly spent in Ludhiana, the largest city in Punjab and the centre of a lot of industry. I was there to shadow a gynaecologist, Dr. Neelam Sodhi, to learn more about women’s reproductive health, as well as the specific issues facing Punjab, particularly any that might be caused by pesticides. This would be the first step in my conducting this survey with doctors throughout the state. However, while it was very interesting to shadow a gynaecologist for a few days, two things quickly became clear: that the doctors I was meeting were not very impressed with the survey the organisation was presenting to them, and that reproductive health, while interesting, is not my area of expertise.

As of now things with the survey are on hold. I understand why KVM wants to carry out the survey. They have observed a lot of reproductive irregularities during their time working in villages here – increasing number of miscarriages, growing number of couples with difficulties conceiving a child, earlier menarche and menopause age, etc. However, none of these observations have been properly documented. As a first step towards a detailed study about health changes in Punjab, they wanted to get a general overview to see if doctors were observing similar trends. This is part of an effort to create a state-wide case against the use of pesticides in Punjab. It is hard to prove causation – even if Punjab is seeing a growing number of reproductive irregularities, the region has seen so many changes in the last half century that its impossible to know if pesticides are the cause – it could be plastics, changing diet, lifestyle stress or mobile phone radiation.

There is so much environmental toxicity in Punjab, that certainly, more information is needed. Poor regulation of coal plants, high concentrations of pesticides and industrial waste in all water bodies, a dangerous level of uranium present in organic matter, are just a few of the things that people complain about here, saying they are the causes of significant health problems. Needless to say, with so many toxins in the environment, and so many changes in the last half century establishing linkages and proving causation will be an arduous task.

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