Air pollution behind poor lung capacity among kids: study

In a sample size of 343, 80% found to have unhealthy or below normal lung function; cancers occuring earlier, say doctors

Published - February 08, 2018 01:59 am IST - New Delhi

 One of the major reasons behind pollution is crop burning in northern India, the study observed.

One of the major reasons behind pollution is crop burning in northern India, the study observed.

Particulate matter pollution monitored over 15 different locations across the Capital for more than three months in a row this winter on a sample size of 343 revealed that 80% of the sample population had unhealthy or below the normal lung functioning.

This report was released by the Hazards Centre which revealed poor lung capacity in children and teenagers.

The study did a peak flow test (done to measure how well your lungs are working by assessing how quickly you can blow air) and tests were conducted in areas where the monitors are installed, and out of the 15 locations, the samples for the health study were taken from 11 different areas.

The samples were collected from Holambi, Bhalaswa, Ayanagar, Punjabi Bagh, Wazirpur, Seelampur, Seemapuri, Saket, Okhla-NFC, Badarpur-TGK andMunirka.

City breathes bad air

The study also found that the southern and northern peripheries of the city — children seem to have better health but the air in all parts of the city is not good for our children.

“While one needs to remember that this may partly be due to the weaker economic background, the children across the city and country deserve good health,’’ noted the study.

“The air quality monitoring also highlights the fact that there is a base pollution load across Delhi of about 300 ug/m3 for PM10 and 200 ug/m3 for PM2.5, which is three times higher than the approved limits and the source is located in Delhi. It is important to note that the Graded Response Action Plan formulated hasn’t been put to use fully since its inception.

Multiple organisations and bodies across Delhi seem to be advocating for new plans every winter instead of implementing what’s been put in place to mitigate the problem,’’ the study added.

Meanwhile, Dr. Arvind Kumar, from Sir Ganga Ram hospital, said, “Air pollution has caused a public health crisis in the city.’’

‘Smoking 50 cigarettes’

“The major reason behind this emergency is industrial emission and vehicle fumes which has been sealed by cool temperature and still winds. At the same time, mass burning of crop waste across the north Indian hinterland has sent dense smoke billowing across one of the world’s most populated regions. The air has heavy metals and other carcinogens at levels more than 30 times World Health Organization limits, conditions likened by medics to smoking at least 50 cigarettes in a day,’’ he added.

Dr. Kumar also stated that in the longer term, consistent poor quality air is altering the demographics of cancer in the city.

“Earlier we would see 90% of the lung cancer patients were smokers. Most were men in their 50s or 60s. However, in the last two years, half of my lung cancer patients have been non-smokers. There is a peak in people aged in their 40s, even people in their 30s. Our cancers are occurring earlier, more in non-smokers, and more in females,’’ he said.

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