The youngest child ever to get lung cancer is, unsurprisingly, in China. ‘An eight-year-old girl, living near a major road in the Jiangsu Province of Eastern China, has become the youngest person in China, and possibly in the world, to be diagnosed with lung cancer caused by pollution—the cause of her disease according to Chinese officials. And last month, the World Health Organization classified air pollution as a major human carcinogen.’ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard is an annual average of 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, though they allow for daily spikes of up to 35. This may seem like a lot, but in comparison, Beijing regularly receives readings of 800-900, or even 1000! The Chinese government is not taking an active role in monitoring air pollution levels, and as a result, young children, the new leaders of this world, are paying the price.
Just as it was a year ago, Diwali is taking its toll on everyone from an air pollution standpoint. The main cities outlined in this article as the ones faring the worst are Ghatkopar, Andheri, and Chembur, all suburbs of Bombay (Mumbai). “Crackers in Diwali have exacerbated chest conditions for many. I am seeing a 20-30% rise in patients approaching the clinic with complaints of wheezing and chest-tightedness. These are classic symptoms of asthma and allergic bronchitis. Cold nights and dry air lead to particulate matter settling low, increasing the level of pollution in the air,” said Dr Tejal Shah, chest physician in Ghatkopar.
Studies in these cities, mainly in the suburbs, show that air pollution levels are up to 16 times worse than normal. Air quality monitoring stations in Bandra and Sion have recorded an average of respirable suspended particulate matter at 150 ug/m3 in the first two weeks of November. This is starkly above the permissible limit of 100 ug/m3. Moreover, latest level of pollutants like nitrous oxide, on November 12, had shot up to 204 ug/m3, while the permissible limit is up to 80 ug/m3.
According to a recent Times of India article, Delhi and Kolkata have the worst air quality levels in India. In the past year, Delhi alone has reported 13,000 cases of cancer, with over 10% of them being lung cancer. Also, out of total number of cases reported during 2009-11 in Kolkata for 20 types of cancers, lung cancer had the highest share of 12%. CSE executive director of research and advocacy on air pollution Anumita Roychowdhury quoted, “The situation demands urgent and immediate policy intervention from the government to prevent exposure early in life to reduce risk as it takes long years for this toxic effect to surface.”
In comparison to the US, India’s PM2.5 air quality standards are more than 3x worse. China’s levels range from 40 – 150 micrograms per cubic meter, with residential being 40, commercial being 100, and industrial being 150. China’s industrial levels are 12½ × worse than the US!
US 12; India 40; China (res.) 40; China (com.) 100; China (ind.) 150
The E.P.A has recently set a lower limit for the amount of soot particles in the air. The limit is now 12 µ gms per cubic meter, lowered from 15 µ gms previously . Indian air quality standards are much less strict.
‘India may have just gotten the wake up call it needed to start getting serious about its growing pollution problem. A study put out this week by Tel Aviv University reports that that Indian megacities are seeing a faster increase in pollution than the cities in the classic environmental villain to the east, China’, quoted an article from Times World. But is India actually more polluted than China? Read the article below to find more.
This is a video that was taken in Mumbai, India on a recent trip by a Dr. Mac along the supposed ‘Queen’s Necklace’. She says, that although India is better off compared to China when discussing air pollution levels, the only place that she saw blue skies on her recent rip to India, was in the Rampal palace in Jaipur.
This is an example of Bangalore air getting heavily polluted by people burning waste. In this case, however, some villagers actually set fire to the grass surrounding a major lake, Bellandur Lake. As you can see, this caused great amounts of smog to be produced.
Air pollution is a growing problem in the developing world which includes all of the urban areas in India. I was personally impacted by the air pollution in Bangalore and tried hard to cope. There are a lot of sufferers, who I believe would be helped by sharing information and coping mechamisms. This blog is for them.