Gasping for breath…..

People in Delhi struggle to breathe each day. Some even use a nebulizer at night in order to take medicines in the form of vapour in order to help their lungs function. Pollution tends to drop when it rains, but the air quality tends to get worse as clouds trap toxic gases at ground level. Toxic gases and other air pollutants hang low when the sky is overcast, which aggravates asthma and other respiratory problems. Children are worst hit because their developing immune system and lungs are not as strong as those of adults.

Respiratory problems in children can worsen progressively. Children with respiratory disorders live with a constant fear of getting an asthma attack. There are thousands of children who are suffering from asthma and other respiratory disorders triggered and aggravated by Delhi’s air, which happens to be dirtiest for any city in the world according to the surveys conducted by the World Health Organization. 40% of Delhi’s children have weak lungs, said a four city survey of 2,000 children released last month. Lung damage was the worst among Delhi’s children with 21% children having very low lung function. Worried parents are either keeping their children indoors or taking the direst step of leaving the city.

More than 33% of school going children in India between the ages of 8-14 years are said to possess weak lungs. Delhi tops the charts with 40% of its children affected, a four-city “breathe Blue” survey has found out. The survey was conducted on 2,000 children between March 31 and April 30, this year. The survey showed that Delhi children are worst affected by the toxic air with 21% children showing poor lung capacity and other 19% children lung capacity that can be termed as  “bad”. The facts thrown up by the survey confirmed that young lungs were being killed by the rising levels of air pollution in the national capital.

The city of Bangalore ended a close second in the survey with 36% of its children affected by poor lung health followed by 35% affected children in Kolkata and 27% affected children in Mumbai. The survey covering four cities was conducted by heal foundation. Surprisingly, children travelling in open vehicles such as rickshaws and auto rickshaws are the worst affected as they are exposed to much more toxic air in comparison to those travelling in covered vehicles such as buses and cars.

In Delhi alone, 92% of children travelling by open vehicles fared poorly in comparison to just 8% of those who used covered vehicles such as cars and buses. An earlier study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board found that every third child in Delhi is suffering from poor lung health because of the ever increasing problem of air pollution in the city. Gases like Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, sulphur Dioxide and other particulate matter are responsible to quite an extent for poor lung health in children. Kids tend to breathe more for each kilogram that they gain during their growing age. While they breathe more, they end up inhaling more pollutants. In addition to that, children also play outdoors which makes them extremely vulnerable to lung related problems along with older people.

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