Deadly air: 40% children in Delhi have weak lungs, finds survey

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 04, 2015 12:57 IST

More than one in three students between 8 and 14 years of age in India have weak lungs. Delhi tops the chart with around 40% of its students affected, a four-city Breathe Blue’15 survey released last month has found out.

The survey was conducted on 2,000 children between March 31 and April 30, this year.

The survey shows that Delhi children are the worst affected with 21% having poor lung capacity and another 19% showing lung capacities that can be termed as "bad". The facts thrown up by the survey confirm the worst fears that young lungs are being killed due to rising air pollution levels.

Bangalore was a close second in the survey, with 36% (14% poor and 22% bad) affected children, followed by 35% affected in Kolkata (9% poor and 26% bad) and 27% in Mumbai (13% poor and 14% bad).

The survey was conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata by the Heal Foundation.

Children from 14 schools - four in Delhi, three in Kolkata and Bangaluru and four in Mumbai - were made to undergo the Lung Health Screening Test, which indicated poor air quality across India.

Incidentally, school children who travel in open vehicles such as cycle rickshaws, two-wheelers and auto rickshaws are the worst affected as they are exposed to much more dust particles in comparison to children traveling in covered vehicles like buses and cars.

In Delhi alone, about 92% of the children traveling by open vehicles fared poor in comparison to just 8% of those who use covered vehicles.

“Not just air pollution, indoor air pollution is also a major concern which 70 to 80% people don’t know about. A study done by our institute about six years ago showed even indoor air pollution is responsible for poor lung conditions in children,” said professor Raj Kumar, head of the department of respiratory allergy and applied immunology, Sarder Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute.

An earlier study conducted in Delhi by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Kolkata based Chittaranjan National Cancer Research Centre found that every third child in Delhi had reduced lung function due to air pollution.

Kids breathe more for each kilogram that they gain during their growing age. While they breath more, they inhale more pollutants. And they also play outdoors. Keeping all these factors together, children are the most vulnerable group along with older people, said an expert.

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