Breathing in Delhi air is worse than smoking, according to a Delhi government report.
Cases of lung impairment — or lung capacity of less than 70% — increased with the number of years spent in Delhi, but smoking had no effect. At 34.5%, the risk of impaired lungs was the same for smokers and non-smokers.
Ten vans deputed by the Delhi government — in collaboration with Maulana Azad Medical College —performed spirometry tests on more than 3,000 people between January 1 and 15 across the city.
A score of 90% on the test is ideal. But, if the score goes below 70%, the lung function of a person is said to be impaired.
More than one in three people who took the test were found to have impaired lungs. Data showed 36.7% people who lived in Delhi for more than two decades were affected when compared to those who had lived here for 5-9 years.
Lung impairment went up with age, with 17.5% of people below the age of 20 affected compared to 41.9% of people between ages 41 and 50, the report said.
In Kirorimal College, where students were tested, 14.3% had impaired lung function. At Rajiv Chowk, where the crowd consisted of people from different parts of Delhi, only 8.7% of the people below the age of 20 had compromised lungs as compared to 30.3% people between the age of 41 and 50.
Worst affected were people living in Gokulpuri, with 48.25% people having impaired lungs. “We need to look into the environmental reasons that put the people in Gokulpuri at risk,” said
Dr Suneela Garg, head of the department of community medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College.