The health impact of air pollution is attracting more and more attention all over the world. As one of the main air borne contaminants, PM2.5 has significant adverse effects on the human body, especially children. Studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) showed that exposure to PM2.5 can reduce children’s lung function and increase the occurrence of asthma and respiratory illnesses1.
For example, children in India are being threatened by high PM2.5 levels. A study of health impacts from PM2.5 was conducted by scientists from Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) from the Kolkata location where 11,000 children from school were tracked for three years. These students were from 36 different schools, each school was within a 3 km radius of a pollution-tracking station in Delhi. After three years of this study, the results were astonishing. The CNCI found that children between the ages of four and 17 in Delhi had an increase in health problems compared to children of the same age in different parts of the world. Some examples of the health problems include: lung function, palpitations, vision problems, and blood pressure2.
A scenario that will make it easier to grasp and understand the information is to compare the health effects of PM2.5 to smoking cigarettes. According to a study conducted by Berkeley Earth, a non-profit organization of scientists, the average person from China breathing in the air pollution is equivalent to smoking 2.4 cigarettes a day. Although this may not seem extreme, when doing the same calculation in New Delhi, India it ends up being 25 cigarettes each day3. With constant exposure to such terrible air pollution, it can easily lead to serious respiratory functions, which is also seen in long-term smoking patients. Although there were many controversies over this article, it shines a light on the dangers of air pollution, to read more about the cigarette equivalence more information can be found at: http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution-and-cigarette-equivalence/. Air pollution is a growing problem and we urge everybody to take action.
Green Peace. Delhi children breath toxic air, reveals Greenpeace air-monitoring survey in schools. Green Peace. http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/Press/-Delhi-children-breath-toxic-air-reveals-Greenpeace-air-monitoring-survey-in-schools/ (Accessed Feb 3)
Ghosal, A; Chatterjee, P. Landmark study lies buried: How Delhi’s poisonous air is damaging its children for life. The Indian Express. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/landmark-study-lies-buried-how-delhis-poisonous-air-is-damaging-its-children-for-life/ (Accessed Feb 3)
Muller, R; Muller, E. Air Pollution and Cigarette Equivalence. Berkeley Earth. http://berkeleyearth.org/air-pollution-and-cigarette-equivalence/ (Accessed Feb 3)