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Delhi breathes better air: survey

Residents, breathe easy: Your respiratory health has improved substantially in the past decade during which dramatic air pollution regulations were introduced, research has shown.

delhi Updated: Apr 14, 2011 00:24 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi

Residents, breathe easy: Your respiratory health has improved substantially in the past decade during which dramatic air pollution regulations were introduced, research has shown.

The capital’s poor have shown the biggest improvement in respiratory health, according to the study by researchers at Brown University and the University of Iowa, published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

The research also found that those who spent time in the open have shown significantly greater improvement in respiratory health than those who spent time indoors. This, the researchers argue, reinforced the link between lung health and changes in air pollution they measured.

“I would call this a strong circumstantial case. The timing and space is right and the link to ambient air exposure is compelling,” lead author Andrew Foster, at Brown University, said. His fellow author Naresh Kumar is from the University of Iowa.

The researchers conducted a socio-economic and respiratory health survey with 3,989 Delhi residents. They recorded how subjects spent time, where they lived, studied demographic data and conducted lung function tests.

Foster and Kumar also recorded levels of particulate matter from 113 locations across Delhi and neighbouring areas. They analysed satellite images provided by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to measure air quality levels at these sites in previous years.

Following the intervention of Supreme Court, Delhi introduced a slew of measures after 2000 to control air pollution. Then, the Capital was one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Foster, however, said it is unclear how much each of these initiatives independently contributed to the improved respiratory health.