How often have you insisted that your child or the little ones in the family go outside and get a whiff of fresh air? Think twice. Maybe it's not a good idea after all.
According to a nation-wide survey report, (Breathe Blue '15), 35 per cent of the school-going children in the country fared badly in the Lung Health Screening Test (LHST), indicating that poor air quality across India, especially Delhi, could have a serious impact on their growing years. 21 per cent of the children surveyed in the Capital fared ‘poor’ in the LHST, followed by Bengaluru (14 per cent), Mumbai (13 per cent), and Kolkata (9 per cent). Another 19 per cent fared as 'bad'.
“The survey, conducted by the Breathe Blue Trust, which works in the area of controlling air pollution, confirms and presents the evidence that rising air pollution could be contributing to the deteriorating lung though it cannot be isolated as the only cause for ill-lung health among school-going children in India, noted Dr Preetaish Kaul, representative of HEAL Foundation, an NGO working in the area of health.
The survey, which included over 2,000 school students in the age group of 8-14 from across the country, was aimed at screening the lung health of children. “The LHST determines how much air the lungs can hold, how quickly one can move air in and out of his/her lungs, and how well the lungs take oxygen in and remove carbon dioxide out from the body. The tests can detect lung diseases and measure the severity of lung problems. Poor results on LHST mean compromised lung function and high possibilities of contracting pulmonary diseases,” added Dr Kaul.
He also noted that the worst-affected are children who commute in unpacked vehicles as they seem to be even more exposed to dust and particles in the air in comparison to children who travel in packed vehicles.
In Delhi alone, around 92 per cent of children using UPT (unpacked transport) fared ‘poor’ versus just 8 per cent of those who use packed transport.
“While rising air pollution in the country poses serious health risks for all, it is more worrisome for children as they are yet in their growth years with vital organs of the body physiologically not mature enough to deal with it. This calls for an urgent need to raise awareness among people and figure out ways to address this issue effectively,” said Dr Raj Kumar, HOD Department of Respiratory Allergy and applied Immunology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute.