Toxic Air

The world today is challenged by a rise in level of toxins in air, that air which is the most basic requirement to remain alive.

 

Current Scenario

When a baby is born, the first thing it does is breathe in and cry its lungs out. Doctors say it is the most important thing as this makes their tiny lungs functional and guarantees their survival. Now just imagine a scenario where the earth is so polluted that this first breath instead of becoming elixir of life becomes an instant poison. This scenario is not a dreaded imagination, but a reality.

According to a study conducted by the UNICEF, there are about 300 million children in the world who are breathing toxic air, which means one in seven of the world’s children. In certain pockets of the world the levels of toxins in outdoor air is about six or more times higher than international guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

Impact on Children’s Health

It is estimated that around 600,000 children (under the age of 5) in the world die every year due to severe air pollution. The toxins present in the air not just damage the tender lungs of the children, but can also damage the blood-brain barrier and permanently impair their developing brains. Decade on decade, there is rise in the number of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

When a person is exposed to polluted environment over a prolonged period of time, then it increases their risk of getting cancer or experiencing other serious health issues, such as damage to the immune system, neurological condition and even reduced fertility among other health problems.

Certain toxics substances, such as mercury, can even get deposited into the soil or surface waters, which further increase the risk of being taken up by plants and animals.

The need of the hour is to wake up to realize the hazards of pollution and take up corrective measure before it’s too late. It is surprising to know that 13 Indian cities find place at different orders in a list of top 20 most polluted cities of the world.

 

Recommendations

The first step towards curbing the pollution is to understand the factors, such as rise in the number of automobiles, air polluting industries etc. A country as a measure to secure the future of our progeny should:

  • Foster use of sustainable energy
  • Offer incentives for use of non-polluting or less polluting means of transport and encourage use of public transport

As an individual we cannot do much to reduce pollution of a city, but there are small things that if we practice can help us tide this crisis:

  • Foster a habit of wearing a mask when a child is exposed to polluted environment.
  • Plant trees in your residential compound.
  • Go for walk through any urban forest or garden once in a while, which will rejuvenate the children.


 

Sources

  1. “Pollution: 300 million children breathing toxic air”, UNICEF, 31 October 2016
  2. “Hazardous Air Pollutants”, US Environmental Protection Agency