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Issue 43
, 2013
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Kids, the worst victims of pollution

Toxics Link
Source: Deccan Herald, Date: , 2013

Pollution and Delhi have become synonymous with each other. Be it the pollutants released by the burgeoning number of vehicles or harmful industrial chemicals, the residents suffer the most. Obviously, it’s not a new revelation! But what may surprise many is that school kids are getting the worst of this pollution and are showing early symptoms of illnesses like pulmonary obstruction.

In a report published in World Allergy Organisation Journal, it has been revealed that children aged 10-14, dwelling in commercial areas of Delhi are most susceptible to respiratory ailments followed by industrial and residential areas. The survey was conducted by the Allergy and Immunology Section of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), the National Environmental En­g­ineering Re­s­earch Institute and Di­­­re­ctorate of Education, on 2000 children residing in Chandni Chowk, Mayapuri and Sarojini Nagar.

Results found that 66 percent children in Chandni Ch­o­wk (commercial area) suff­e­r­ed from pulmonary ob­s­­truction followed by 59 percent in Mayapuri (industrial) and 46 percent in Sarojini Nagar (residential).

“Chandni Chowk is congested. There’s hardly any place for ventilation inside homes. As a result, maximum number of kids suffer from respiratory illnesses like cou­g­h­ing, wheezing and have difficulty in breathing,” says Dr PC Kathuria, senior consultant, Allergy and Asthma, BLK Hospital. According to him, the problem is not only prevalent in Chandni Chowk but in other parts of the City like Rohini and Dwarka too. “Teen­s in these areas are also suffering from respiratory problems because of the increase in the level of Particulate Matter (PM) inside homes,” says he.

Establishing the connect between the low immunity level in kids and maximum time they spend inside schools or homes, Dr Kathuria says, “Owing to unhealthy food habits, the immune system of kids is generally disturbed. So the PM
 they inhale induces reactions inside their bodies in the form of allergic bronchitis. This is further triggered by outdoor pollution.” Notably these PM include allergens like dust and fungal spores.

But why are children in commercial areas more susceptible to pulmonary obstr­u­c­tion problems rather than those in the industrial areas? “It depends upon the land usage pattern. Generally, commercial areas are conges­ted and therefore accumulati­on of particulate matter is more. There is always a high content of dust in these areas. In the absence of proper ventilation, PM circulate inside the home and increase in quantity over time,” says Ravi Aggarwal, director, NGO Toxic Link.

However, Prof SK Chabra, MD, Pulmonary Medicine, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute  attributes the reason to the increase in the number of vehicles. “In 2000, when CNG run vehicles were introduced, the pollution level was brou­g­ht down. But 2006 onwards there has been a sharp incr­e­a­se in the pollution level beca­u­se vehicles have increased especially heavy vehicles like the diesel run SUVs.”

He says, “Owing to government’s lack of fuel and vehicle management, these pollutants are finding their way to homes and it is not restricted to a few areas. Almost every part of the City is affected. Soon, there will be spurt in the number of young kids ending up patients of respiratory illnesses.”