The Children face much higher health risks of air pollution than adults. Children breathe twice as fast, taking more air relative to their body weight, while their brains and immune systems are still developing and vulnerable.
As Indians wake up on Monday at sky filled with smoke from a weekend festival of fireworks, the worst season of New Delhi for air pollution begins – with disastrous consequences. A new UNICEF report says most of the 2 billion children in the world who breathe the toxic air live in the countries of North India and neighbors at the risk of serious health effects, including damage to their lungs, brain and other organs. On this worldwide total, 300 million children are exposed to levels of more than six times the pollution standards set by the World Health Organization, 220 million in South Asia.
In the Indian capital, the alarming figures are hardly a surprise. The air pollution in New Delhi among its worst in the world, peaks each winter due to low wind season and numerous trash fires burned to help people stay warm.
Even days before the city erupted in the annual celebrations of fireworks for the Hindu festival of Diwali, recorded lower levels of lung clogging particles known as PM 2.5 Friday were considered dangerous well above 300 micro grams per cubic meter. On Monday morning, the city recorded PM 2.5 levels above 900 mcg per cubic meter over 90 times higher than the recommendation of no more than 10 mcg per cubic meter WHO.
The children face much higher health risks of air pollution than adults. Children breathe twice as fast, taking more air relative to their body weight, while their brains and immune systems are still developing and vulnerable.
“The impact is proportionately shocking”, with 6 lakh children under 5 worldwide die each year from diseases linked to air pollution, Executive Director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake said in the report released Monday. “millions more suffer from respiratory diseases that reduce their resilience and their impact on physical and cognitive development.
Of the 2 billion children in the world to breathe unhealthy air, the report 620 million of them in South Asia – mainly northern India. Another 520 million children breathe toxic air in Africa and 450 million in East Asia, mainly China, the report, which combines satellite images of pollution and ground data with demographic trends to determine which people fell in the most risky areas.
Since being identified as one of the most polluted cities in the world in recent years, New Delhi has tried to clean up its air. He forbade trucks in the streets of the city, required drivers to buy newer cars that meet the highest emission standards and conducted several weeks of monitoring the experimental traffic, limiting the number of cars on the road. But other sources of pollution, including construction dust and cooking fires fueled by wood or kerosene continue unabated.
Last week, the city launched a smartphone application called “Changing the Air” by inviting residents to send photos and complaints about illegal sources of pollution, burning leaves and trash in public parks construction crews working without dust control measures.