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Delhi is the capital city of India. It is also one of the most polluted cities in the world. With an estimated population of over 30 million people, it is the second-largest city in the world by population. Sadly, the combination of pollution with a large population has devastating effects on the health of many children. One in three of Delhi’s children has asthma. High rates of asthma and other respiratory issues are intrinsically linked to the city’s Pollution.
Children are more susceptible to diseases caused by Pollution. Indeed, a 2023 UNICEF report stated that Pollution can have “devastating effects” on children’s health and development. The report explains that children are more vulnerable to the effects of Pollution because they breathe twice as fast as adults, are lower to the ground (where pollutants accumulate), and do not yet have fully developed organs. Pollution does not only damage children’s respiratory systems. It can also have lasting negative impacts on physical and mental development. This includes children’s brain development.
For families in Delhi and other heavily polluted cities, there are often few avenues to escape Pollution. Parents may choose to keep their children indoors, in hopes of protecting them from breathing the polluted air. However, according to a statement that Dr. Ajay Shukla gave to news outlet The Guardian, confinement indoors can harm children’s mental health. However, for many families, it is the only available way to protect their children.
Although doctors have sounded the alarm about the effects of Pollution on children’s health, their warnings are not always effective. Recent spikes in Pollution have led to a reported 30 percent increase in respiratory cases at hospitals. This is partially due to the lighting of fireworks during the celebration of Diwali, despite a 2018 ban on firecrackers. Setting off fireworks releases chemicals and noxious gasses into the atmosphere.
Shortly before Diwali, Delhi’s air quality index was at 218. By the Monday after the festival, it had climbed to 850 in certain areas. Agricultural burning in nearby regions and meteorological conditions also contributed to the skyrocketing Pollution index.
Although steps have been taken to improve Delhi’s air quality, they have not yet had the desired effect. Other Pollution-reducing efforts, including artificial rain and increasing forest coverage, are also being considered. However, Pollution’s impacts on children are drawing criticism that the efforts are not doing enough. Indeed, the Supreme Court described the circumstances in bleak terms. The court described ongoing rampant Pollution as “the complete murder of our young.”
Sign this petition to Reduce Air Pollution!
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