Monday, 31 October 2016

Two billion children breathing toxic air-UNICEF

As Indians awake to smoke-filled skies from a weekend of festival fireworks, Delhi's worst season for air pollution begins - with dire consequences.

A new report from the UN children's agency, UNICEF, says about a third of the two billion children in the world who are breathing toxic air live in northern India and neighbouring countries, risking serious health effects including damage to their lungs, brain and other organs.

Of that global total, 300 million children are exposed to pollution levels more than six times higher than standards set by the World Health Organization, including 220 million in South Asia.
The alarming numbers are hardly a surprise. Delhi's air pollution, among the world's worst, surges each winter because of the season's weak winds and countless rubbish fires set alight to help people stay warm.

Even days before the city erupted in annual firework celebrations for the Hindu holiday of Diwali, recorded levels of tiny, lung-clogging particulate matter known as PM2.5 were considered dangerous at well above 300 micrograms per cubic metre.

On Monday, Delhi residents were advised to stay indoors, with health warnings issued for the young, elderly and those with respiratory or heart conditions.

Since being identified as one of the world's most polluted cities, Delhi has tried to clean its air in recent years.

It has barred lorries from city streets, required drivers to buy newer cars that meet higher emissions standards and carried out several weeks of experimental traffic control, limiting the number of cars on the road.

But other pollution sources, including construction dust and cooking fires fuelled by wood or kerosene, continue unabated.

Source: Aje