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'Exposure to PM2.5 may be associated with adverse health outcomes for children'

New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) The day after Diwali has seen the cleanest air this year in Delhi since 2015, but the national capital’s air quality is still in the “poor” category, and the pollutants present in it can have deleterious health effects, especially for children.

Exposure to particulate matter like PM2.5 can make the children feel uneasy and even cause the problems in breathing, said Dr Jugal Kishore, Director, Professor and Head of Department of Community Medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, adding that the respiratory systems of children with allergies or asthma becomes sensitive to the particulate matter.

PM2.5 is even smaller in diameter than hair and can be inhaled into the respiratory system, travel through the airways, and eventually be transferred into the bloodstream. The effects of these chemicals on the body are numerous including a decrease in the amount of antioxidants within the body, thereby resulting in respiratory inflammation in the elderly and young children, he said.

“The air pollutants go to the placenta through blood and block the vessel – causing stillbirth and premature deaths to newborn,” he said, adding that exposure to high levels of PM2.5 causes newborn to premature deaths even in 1 to 2 weeks after birth and sometimes premature birth too.

The particles get stuck at lung alveoli where the lungs and the blood exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide during the process of breathing and start inflammatory reactions that cause breathing problems.

The air pollution does not contribute only to respiratory problems but it has long-term health effects, which include heart disease, lung cancer, brain stroke and many more, he said.

Besides affecting lungs, high levels of pollutants in the atmosphere cause inflammation in blood vessels and may lead to hardening of arteries which can act as a trigger for stroke or heart attack in persons, already at risk of the disease.

About pollution impact on kids, Dr Arun Gupta of the Delhi Medical Council said that children with bronchitis or asthma may feel uneasy in breathing post Diwali. If a child feels uncomfortable while breathing in and out, they must consult doctors immediately, he advised.

This year, the day after Diwali has seen the cleanest air in Delhi since 2015. Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Tuesday said that this year pollution level in the national capital was the lowest after Diwali compared to the last five years.

Rai said that this year, there has been a reduction of 30 per cent in pollution compared to last year itself, and 30 per cent dip in use of fireworks showed people are becoming aware.

–IANS

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