Air pollution affects at least 47 million Indian children: Report

People cross the road in Delhi, India, November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal

NEW DELHI – At least 47 million children under the age of five live in areas facing severe air pollution with dangerous effluent density, a report said on Monday.

The report by Greenpeace-India, based on data from state and central pollution control boards, asserted that as many as 47 million children live in areas with pollutant PM10, or particulate matter in the air with diameter less than 10 microns, exceeding the safe limits.

Of these 47 million children, all under five years of age, 17 million live in areas with PM10 twice the permissible standards or safe limit.

National capital Delhi, along with Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Maharashtra, are the places where children are “worst affected”.

“Together these states are home to 12.9 million children, who are below or up to five years of age, trapped in bad air exceeding by more than twice the annual standard,” the report said.

The report analyses PM10 annual average recorded for 280 cities, which account for 630 million, or 53 per cent citizens of the country’s total population.

Interestingly, the condition or air quality under which rest 47 per cent of population resides is unknown.

“A massive part of the population, 580 million or 47 per cent are living in areas where no air quality data is available,” the report pointed out.

Delhi remained the worst-affected city with annual PM10 levels exceeding approximately five times the national ambient air quality standards.

The safe limit for PM10 as per national standards is 60 microgrammes per cubic meters (annual average).

“That only 16 per cent of the population inhabiting the districts have real-time air quality data available portrays how in-humanly we are responding to the national health crises in front of us,” said Sunil Dahiya, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

Dahiya added that even the manual data collected for 300 cities and towns was not shared in a timely manner and in a format understood easily by general public.

Further, Delhi with 290 units was the worst-polluted city in terms of ranking of the cities based on PM10, followed by Faridabad (272 units), Bhiwadi (262 units) and Patna (261 units).

“Surprisingly, Dehradun in Uttrakhand, once thought to be a salubrious preserve of retiring elite, also made it to the top 10 list of worst polluted cities with 238 µg/m3 annual average of PM10,” the report pointed out.

The report asserted that less than 20 per cent Indian cities were complying with the national standards of pollution.



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