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Posted at: Dec 19, 2017, 1:26 AM; last updated: Dec 19, 2017, 1:26 AM (IST)

Unicef report on pollution has parents worried

Says around 12 million babies in South Asia under the age of one are worst affected

Gurvinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 18

Recent Unicef report stating that pollution permanently damages young children’s brain has triggered a concern among parents in the city. The report was released this month and has been going viral online since then.

It points out that in South Asia, around 12 million babies under the age of one are the worst affected due to high levels of air pollution. The report pointed out that air pollution was linked to pneumonia that has been one of the biggest killers of children under the age of five, in addition to several respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, etc. The report also stated that air pollution posed a risk to their developing brains as well.

The city is already battling pollution woes as it was considered as one of the worst polluted cities in the cities in the world.

“I just went through the reports. We are living in one of the most polluted cities in the world. Our children are at a huge risk. We all, including the government, need to wake up to this ugly reality of pollution,” says Jasneet, a resident.

Doctors say respiratory problems among children maybe linked to the rising pollution levels. Dr Gurmeet Singh Dhooria, a pediatrician at the DMCH, said the number of children in OPDs had definitely increased.

“Over the past few months, there has been three-fold rise in child patients who have been complaining about bronchitis, ‘recurrent wheeze’ and other respiratory problems,” he said. “New research being done in different parts of the world is proving a connection between long-term exposure of children to pollution and poor cognitive development,” he said.

“Pollution can affect a child even before it is born as small chlorofluorocarbons can go from mother to foetus and to its brain. The smaller particles, 2.5 micrograms or lesser, can even cross over into the brain and harm nerves and tissues,” he said.

“I frequently travel to Delhi and being the national capital, pollution levels there make headlines, but Ludhiana’s air is not better off,” said Sarabjit, a business owner. “Pollution levels in congested areas near old city and industry areas are rarely measured here,” he added. Maneet Dewan, president, I am an NGO, said, “Leaving behind the vote-bank politics, the government needs to take stern steps to stop pollution, else the day is not far when people would have to buy ‘air bottles’ to breathe clean air, as they have to buy water bottles now. The future of children is at stake.”

“Not just reforms, there is a need for structural changes by the government, and strict action needs to be taken irrespective of person or industry, because nothing is more precious than life,” he said.


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