Air pollution linked with rising asthma cases in kids

Research reports indicate Bengaluru’s increasingly toxic air is making city dwellers, particularly children, susceptible to respiratory diseases.

A study published in International Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics in March 2018 concluded that exposure to smoke is among the top three reasons that trigger asthma in children. The conclusion was arrived at after observing 100 children in the Intensive Care Unit of Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, Bangalore, in 2015.

Another research article published in the same journal in November 2018 concluded that air pollution from traffic and combustion of fuels and biomass fuels are some of the major triggers of bronchial asthma.

Bengaluru-based paediatric pulmonologist Dr H Paramesh confirmed that these factors do contribute to respiratory issues. He pointed out two of the biggest culprits: PM2.5 (suspended particulate matter whose diametre spans less than 2.5 micrometre or about 3% the width of a human hair) and PM10. He explained that when these pollutants are inhaled and enter the bloodstream, they reduce the body’s ability to absorb oxygen.

Dr Pratima Singh, a research scientist at Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy, said PM2.5 and PM10 get inhaled easily due to their microscopic size. She said these particles reach deep into the lungs and can cause serious health issues.

She noted that children are particularly prone to the symptoms of asthma and have a greater chance of developing the disease as their lungs are not fully developed and they have a faster breathing rate. She added that children living in highly polluted areas experience a deterioration in their lung function over the years as they grow up.

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