ON GUARD 1 in 8 children in industrial areas fall prey to the breathing disorder, finds study
One in 12 children aged 7 to 15 years suffer from asthma in Delhi, with the breathing disorder maximum affecting those living in industrial areas where one in eight suffered from it, showed a study.
Prevalence was the least among children from villages where one in 24 were affected against one in 13 children in residential neighbourhoods.
The study by Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute surveyed 3,104 children living in eight areas in Delhi and its surrounding villages. Ashok Vihar, Janakpuri, Nizamuddin and Siri Fort were the residential areas selected for the study, Shahdara and Shahzada Bag were the industrial areas and Dallupura and Jagatpur were the villages.
The study found that indoor air pollution played a role too. Monitoring levels of NO2, SO2 and suspended particulate matter (SPM) indoors in 25% of the homes selected in each area showed that more children had asthma in areas where indoor pollution levels were high.
“More children living in industrial areas had asthma and in homes where indoor air pollution levels were also very high. When we speak of asthma, we always think of ambient (outdoor) air pollution caused by vehicles, but, indoor air pollution can be dangerous,” said Dr Raj Kumar, the leading author of the study.
Children in affluent homes had higher levels of asthma, with 10.03% affected as compared to 9.11% in poor households. “The people from the better off homes had a clear medical history, but this could because there is underreporting of asthma among people from a lower socio-economic background,” said Dr Kumar.
Asthma was higher in homes where food was cooked using biomass fuel like wood, coal or animal waste, which pushed up SO2 levels. The SO2 levels also increased in homes where four or more people shared a room and if there was a smoker in the house.