One out of every three school students in four metro cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata – has weak lungs, said a recently released study.
Chest physicians said the study could indicate that many children are growing up with weak lungs that can shorten their lifespan.
The survey tested 2,000 school students in the age group of 8 to 14 and found that 35% of them fared badly in the lung health screening test (LHST) that determines the health and function of lungs.
The test estimates how much air the lungs can hold, how quickly the person can inhale and exhale and how well the lungs take oxygen in and remove carbon dioxide from the body.
In Mumbai, 27% children had poor lung capacity; Delhi students were the worst affected with 40% being tagged with poor lung capacity. This was followed by Bangalore at 36% and Kolkata with 35% children having weak lungs. “The LHST tests can detect lung diseases and measure the severity of lung problems. Poor test results mean compromised lung function and high possibilities of contracting pulmonary diseases,” said Dr Sanjeev Mehta, chest physician at Lilavati Hospital.
“It is more important to understand that with the increased air pollution our lungs, especially of children, are severely compromised. Children are growing with weak lungs, which is shortening their lives,” added Dr Mehta.
“While the rising air pollution in the country poses serious health risks for all, it is more worrisome for children as they are in their growth years,” said Dr Preetish Kaul of HEAL Foundation, which conducted the survey.
In addition to the lung function study on children, the survey included a perception study to assess awareness and attitude towards air pollution and health. The study revealed that a majority think it is the government’s sole responsibility to clean the air.
Of the total 1,200 people surveyed, 15%, 24%, 27% and 9% people in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata respectively think they are responsible for air pollution. And, 94% (Delhi), 84% (Mumbai), 67% (Bangalore) and 76% (Kolkata) of those surveyed think their participation and contribution will have negligible effect on air pollution.