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A few Lessons from New york to New Delhi

The city of New York addresses asthma in innovative ways. These include action with the local residents, asthma runs to raise awareness and now, a startling new study that all of us in India should pay heed to.

delhi Updated: Aug 31, 2009 01:39 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi

The city of New York addresses asthma in innovative ways. These include action with the local residents, asthma runs to raise awareness and now, a startling new study that all of us in India should pay heed to.

The study, by Perera et al, published recently in Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) concludes that prenatal exposure to the common air pollutants – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) —can lower children’s IQ by the time they are old enough to join kindergarten. This was at New York levels of PAHs.

We know that PAHs are caused by combustion of fuel and organic materials. We also know they cause blood cancers and stunt neurological development.

There is mounting evidence that India is swimming in a sea of PAHs. A study in Agra shows high levels of PAHs, on account of vehicles and combustion. Similarly, soil around airports is contaminated.

Clearly, we need fewer vehicles on the road and better public transport.

Second, vehicles have to follow the most stringent standards. Third, open burning of waste must stop-something everyone can do in their neighbourhoods. All this and the new study should force us to wake up and think about whether we want our lifestyles and policies that are only making our children dumb?

Climate Cooling costs more

Last week, an important new report by the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, caused global stress.

The report said that combating climate change is much more expensive than estimated-nearly $500 (about Rs 22,000) annually.

For example, the new study says, current estimates presume poorer countries will continue to have low investments in infrastructure.

If so, how will the poor adapt to climate change? But if we need more investment, who will pay for it? Countries like India need as much assistance as they can possibly get to make the leap of faith, and the implications of this study should worry us. Wealthy countries insist they need funds too. Money could become the bone of contention at Copenhagen.

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