New Delhi: Citizens of the National Capital Region are alarmed as the air quality in the region shows no signs of improvement in the near future. The average air quality index of the capital as on Wednesday, stood at 355, falling under the ‘very poor’ category as against the safe limit of 100 as prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board. This toxic smog, however, did not stop the kids of Delhi-NCR from standing up against one of the major sources of pollution – vehicle emission. Children in the capital braved the cold weather to give anti-air pollution message to the parents and other vehicle commuters. Their message? Stop idling when the car is halting for more than 10 seconds!
Students of Bal Bharti Public School, Noida formed a human chain and stationed outside the pick-up and drop points of these schools giving out key messages to the parents, drivers and others commuters to engage in the responsible use of private vehicles. They also aimed to promote use of school buses instead of private vehicles for commuting to school. Children spoke to the parents and drivers operating school vehicles to stop idling when around schools. They also educated the office commuters to turn off their engines at the crossings.
According to a study by IIT Kanpur in 2016, vehicular emissions contribute to 9% of PM 10 and 20% of the total PM 2.5 load in the city. Readings taken from Atmos Air Quality Monitors, suggest that PM 2.5 values spike up to 40 per cent more than the average PM levels inside the school area at the pick-up and drop timings. The ‘No Idling’ campaign, a part of the mandate of B.E.S.T. (Breathe Easy Stay Tough) Club school initiative of the Lung Care Foundation, will target parents, drivers and others who idle their vehicles outside schools.
The duration of idling usually varies between 10-20 minutes, while waiting to pick up the children from school or stuck in the traffic jam outside school at the time of school dispersal, thereby, exposing children to high levels of pollution right outside the school and in transit, says Mr. Abhishek Kumar, C.E.O. of the Lung Care Foundation.
Dr. Arvind Kumar, Chest Surgeon & Founder Trustee of Lung Care Foundation highlights that “Children are most susceptible to sudden spikes in the air pollution levels, which is over and above the high air pollution conditions that prevail in our city most parts of the year. Prolonged exposure to such pollution spikes can lead to children developing asthma, bronchitis, hamper their mental and physical development.”
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Mr. Rajiv Khurana, also a Founder Trustee of Lung Care Foundation explained how running cars don’t just burn fuel but they burn oxygen too.
When we are waiting for our children in front of the school with our engine on, we are making them and their friends walk through the poisonous gases. I request all parents to be aware, be responsible and take charge. Mr. Khurana added.
Dr. Neeraj Jain, Chairman, Department of Chest Medicine at Sri Ganga Ram Hospital and Member Doctors for Clean Air Initiative also highlighted that how vehicular emissions contribute significantly to the deteriorating air quality of Delhi NCR.
When there is excessive vehicular movement and idling around schools, the toxic fumes cross the school boundary and affect the children studying inside the classroom or children playing inside the school ground. The young developing lungs and bodies of children can be permanently damaged by exposure to the sudden spikes of pollution around the school, said Mr. Jain.
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“Many schools have air-conditioned school buses and in order to maintain the temperatures within the buses they often idle their vehicles for about 30-40 mins before the children start boarding their school buses and children are exposed to the fumes. My child always complains of cough coming back from school. She takes about an hour to settle down,” a parent pointed out.
For the sake of our children, areas around the schools should be made as ‘No Idling Zones’ and a strict fine should be imposed on any violator,”another parent suggested.
Through this platform, Lung Care Foundation launched the #ParentsForCleanAir initiative under the B.E.S.T. club program where parents are invited to join hands for clean air initiatives to provide healthy clean air for their children.
Unveiling the banner with Mr Rajiv Khurana, Mrs. Asha Prabhakar, Principal Bal Bharti Public School, Noida stated that It is a matter great pride that the students of BBPS Noida have shown their social responsibility towards the most dreadful cause – air pollution. The parents of the school stand united with us through the Parents for Clean Air Initiative, and are an essential part of the functioning of the B.E.S.T. (Breathe Easy Stay Tough) Clubs. It is our joint endeavour to ensure children breathe good quality of Air in and around the school.
According to a study by World Health Organisation, 93% of all children live in environments with air pollution levels above the WHO guidelines globally. Ambient air pollution and household air pollution contributed to respiratory tract infections that resulted in 543 000 deaths in children under 5 years in 2016. The campaign is a sincere appeal by the children to all the adults to do every bit that they can to reduce air pollution and provide cleaner air for the health and survival of the present and future generations.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.