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Bengaluru’s children second-worst affected in country due to air pollution

Having lost its moniker as a pensioner’s paradise, the unforgiving urbanisation of the city seems to be targeting another vulnerable age group: children.

The city ranks second in the country – only following the notorious pollution levels of Delhi – in a survey that looked at the adverse effects of air quality on children.

Nearly 34 per cent of the children, aged between 10 and 15 years, tested on their lung capacities were graded either “poor” or “bad” in the city, says Breathe Blue Survey that was released here on Monday. Only Delhi which has 40 per cent of children surveyed in these two categories fares worse than Bengaluru.

The survey – which tested more than 500 children in the city using a Peak Flow Meter at traffic junctions and schools in congested areas in four cities – even notes that drastic difference in health of children who travel in air-conditioned vehicles and those who are exposed to air pollution during their commuting through walk or scooters.

More than 80 per cent of the children diagnosed with poor or bad lung capacity in the city were found to travel to school in non-air-conditioned vehicles or by walk. Conversely, four in five children tested as being “excellent” lung capacities travel in air-conditioned vehicles.

Nagendra Prasad K., allergy specialist from Bengaluru Allergy Centre, says that while children start experiencing decreased lung function at the age of eight itself due to pollution; congenitally impaired lung is a threat when pregnant women are exposed to air pollution.

While the pollution levels in Bengaluru will be higher than Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai which have sea-ward and land-ward breeze, Vaman Acharya, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) Chairman conceded that little could be done about the air quality unless new vehicle registration rate comes down drastically.

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