Welcoming newborns into our house with sweets and pooja is old style. The latest trend is to welcome born babies into our beloved nests with polluted air surrounding them that they ought to breathe! Instead of leaving our children with a legacy of good values, health and compassion we are pushing them into serious health consequences with every passing day. Every single day makes me wonder whether kids of the future are blessed or rather cursed to be born in this world. Worldwide statistics are getting bleaker day by day with more than 93% children under the age of 15 breathing air that is too polluted having dire consequences on their health and development. In 2016 alone, there were around 6,00,000 children who died from respiratory infections due to air pollution. Mankind’s unscrupulous acts have made our kids answerable to our follies. This is highly unpardonable and inhuman.
Polluted Minds, Polluted Environments, Polluted Life
WHO reports suggest that air pollution is one of the leading causes of death in kids under the age of 5. Every 1 of 10 deaths happening are due to polluted air. It starts slowly showing hints in the form of affected neurological development and cognitive ability, expresses itself as asthma or even childhood cancer and progresses to even cardiovascular diseases rarely in places where there are extremely high levels of air pollution. Read more about the effects of air pollution and its disastrous effects on children from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Kids: More Susceptible to Pollution
A child’s lungs grow fully only after he/she is born which includes more than 80% of air sacs development that happens after birth. Air sacs are primarily responsible for breathing in oxygen into the blood. Surprisingly, a kid’s lungs and alveoli attain full growth only when he/she becomes an adult which might also be one of the reasons for increased presence of respiratory illnesses among younger population compared to adults. Above all, a child’s immune system does not attain full growth until adulthood making him/her vulnerable to diseases and infections.
Kids are more vulnerable to air pollution due to various important reasons:
Delhi holds second place in the list of most-polluted cities worldwide only next to Lahore (Pakistan) and our meteorological department has given precautionary signals of adverse air conditions nearing Diwali. Our country is the sad owner of the world’s 10 most polluted cities according to WHO reports.
This is the right time to discuss about air pollution as it is Diwali time and this is also the time of the year during which farmers gear up for the peak crop-burning season both of which are sure to surround our cities, especially our country’s capital with abundant smog. Called as stubble burning, farmers burn tons and tons of crop and light their fields preparing for the next crop season. This practice is carried on despite several warnings from the government as most of them cannot afford alternative methods for the same.
Diwali is the most sought-after festival in India especially by children owing to its overpour of colors, crackers and sweets. Though there is a sharp dip in firecrackers production and usage, cities across the country do burst some on the occasion of the festival. Air quality index witnessed a sharp dip last Diwali owing to firecrackers.
One research by the WHO tracked more than 1000 pregnant women in India and results showed a direct correlation between increased pollution rates and premature babies born. This shows the nasty effects of polluted air on kids while they are still in the womb. Our future generation doesn’t deserve this! They deserve to be brought up in an environment where they can breathe clean air, eat nutrient-rich produce and utilize their full potential to bring glory to this world and make it a better place for the successive generations. Simple initiatives from our end and bigger initiatives from the Government’s end are needed to make the world better. We can try carpooling to minimize fuel consumption, reduce consumption of foods that contain greater carbon footprints and even spread awareness on air pollution and its hazardous effects on public from our end.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.
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