Doctors Explain Why Children Can’t Handle Delhi’s Air Pollution

According to a report by WHO, of the top 20 most polluted cities, 13 cities are from India and Delhi tops the charts as the worst polluted city in the country. (Photo Credit: AFP)

New Delhi: The air that Delhiites are breathing is harmful, more so, for the children. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Delhi leads the list of world’s most polluted cities. Taking cognizance of the situation, the doctors have urged parents to conduct Lung Health Screening Test (LHST) for their children.

According to the doctors, the vital organs of children are not mature enough to tackle Delhi’s polluted air and thus, they are affected the most. The WHO survey also shows that 21 per cent children in Delhi have ‘poor’ lung capacity.

“While rising air pollution in the country poses serious health risks to all, it is more worrisome for children as their vital organs are not mature enough to deal with it. Lung Health Screening Test is extremely important for the children to go through,” Rakesh Chawla, Senior Consultant of Respiratory Medicine at city based Saroj Super Speciality Hospital was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.

Lung Health Screening Test determines the capacity of the lungs to hold air. With this, the doctors can figure out how quickly one can move air in and out of the child’s lungs, how well the lungs take in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the body.

Mr Chawla said that the tests can help detect lung diseases and measure their severity. Poor results of the test are reflective of high possibilities of contracting pulmonary diseases.

As per a survey by the World Health Organisation, the air pollution severity is equally bad in Bengaluru with 14 per cent of children affected by it. It is followed by Mumbai (13 per cent) and Kolkata (9 per cent).

Another observation brought to the fore by respiratory experts is – children travelling in “unpacked vehicles” are more exposed to dust particles in the air. In Delhi alone, about 92 per cent children using unpacked transport fared ‘poor’ against eight per cent who used packed transport.

Ashutosh Shukla, head of medicine at Artemis hospital said that as PM 2.5 is very fine, it can settle in the developing lungs of children below the age of five years and worsen asthma and other respiratory problems. He further said that the older persons come to him complaining about of congestion, sinusitis, asthma and difficulty in breathing.

Stating that air pollution has emerged as the deadliest form of pollution and the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide, he said, “Of the total premature deaths globally, more than one-fourth are from India.”

According to medical journal The Lancet, over a million Indians die every year due to air pollution and some of the worst polluted cities of the world are in India.

The study released this week but based on 2010 data estimates that globally 2.7-3.4 million preterm births may be associated with PM 2.5 exposure and South Asia is the worst hit accounting for 1.6 million pre-term births.

Air pollution has also been linked to higher rates of cancer, stroke and heart disease, as well as chronic respiratory conditions like asthma.

According to another report of WHO, of the top 20 most polluted cities, 13 cities are from India. Delhi’s pollution contributed to 4.3 million deaths annually which are related to pneumonia, stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The report said that coal based pollution in the environment will always be significant in India. The microscopic particles are so light they float on air and lodge deep in the lungs, and have been linked to higher rates of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and heart diseases.

(With Inputs From IANS)