Air pollution and health: How our children will continue to breathe?

The Central Pollution Control Board of India announced it would warn people to avoid jogging outdoors in the early morning and after sunset

The Central Pollution Control Board of India announced it would warn people to avoid jogging outdoors in the early morning and after sunset

More than two million deaths occur in India prematurely every year, accounting for 25 per cent of the global deaths due to poor air quality. These particulate matters are so tiny that they can enter the bloodstream and cause damage.

Health experts say the "very poor" air quality can lead to respiratory illness, especially among children and elderly people, on prolonged exposure.

In low income countries nearly all (98%) of children under five are exposed to levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) higher than World Health Organization recommended limits.

"Politicians can not say in 10 years from now, when citizens will start to take them to court for the harm they have suffered, that they didn't know", she said.

"A country can not say that they want to develop economically, they have to pollute - that is not true". Owing to their minute size, particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers are able to bypass the nose and throat and penetrate deep into the lungs and some may even enter the circulatory system.

As part of its call for action from the worldwide community, WHO is recommending a series of straightforward measures to reduce the health risk from ambient fine particulate matter, or PM2.5 These include accelerating the switch to clean cooking and heating fuels and technologies, promoting the use of cleaner transport, energy-efficient housing and urban planning. Air pollution can also have adverse impact on ecosystems.

Another report by Greenpeace presented a grim picture of India's pollution level. We are talking about putting at risk a new generation of having a reduced IQ.

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That includes using less polluting fuels for cooking and not smoking.

The report also urges all countries to work towards WHO's air quality guidelines by implementing policies that will reduce air pollution. The report called for further research in this area.

Mark Watts, executive director of the C40 Cities group, which represents cities around the world working to tackle the climate crisis and air pollution, said the report was an urgent call to action.

"Air pollution is stunting our children's brains, affecting their health in more ways than we suspected". About 28 percent of pollution by PM2.5 (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) on Tuesday was caused due to regional factors like stubble burning, SAFAR officials said. "Most importantly, you just have to stop emitting so much".

One of the key aims of the conference is to focus on the co-benefits of transitioning away from sources that emit both air pollutants and greenhouse gases like black carbon and ozone (O3). Delhi is now the second most polluted major city in the world, according to air quality tracker AirVisual, second only to Lahore in Pakistan.

The Central Pollution Control Board has been asked to create a social media account immediately for the citizens to raise complaints regarding Delhi's air pollution so that corrective plans can be initiated by the concerned authorities.

We need common goals for our common future, such as reducing the number of deaths from air pollution. The commitments would be formally announced on the last day of the conference.

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