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Polluted environment kills 1.7 million children a year: WHO report

According to recently released World Health Organisation (WHO) report titled “Inheriting a sustainable world: Atlas on children’s health and the environment”, polluted environment kills around 1.7 million children a year.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of the environment’s impact especially air pollution on children’s health, illustrating the scale of the challenge.

Key Highlights from Report 
  • Every year, environmental risks such as outdoor and indoor air pollution, unsafe water, second-hand smoke, lack of sanitation and inadequate hygiene results in quarter of all global deaths of children under five.
  • Large portion of the most common causes of death among children are diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia due to pollution.
  • Harmful exposures also increase the risk of premature birth. When infants and pre-schoolers are exposed to air pollution they have an increased lifelong risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma.
  • Exposure to air pollution may also increase their lifelong risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer. Children’s developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them vulnerable pollution.

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India’s air pollution is world’s deadliest compared to China: Study

According to a new study of global air pollution India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world.

The report was issued jointly by Health Effects Institute, a Boston research institute focused on the health effects of air pollution, and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle based population health research centre.

Key Highlights of report
  • The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles PM2.5, has stabilised globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India.
  • About 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year in India which has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50% in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015 period.
  • Global Scenario: The air pollution in recent times has worsened in parts of the world, including South Asia, but it improved in the United States and Europe.
  • US and Europe: Environmental regulations in US and actions taken by European Commission have led to substantial progress in reducing fine particulate matter (PM) pollution from industrialisation since 1990.
  • US has experienced a reduction of about 27% in the average annual exposure to fine PM and there has been smaller declines in Europe. that reduced emissions from industrialisation
  • China: Premature deaths from particulate matter in China each year have stabilised at around 1.1 million since 2005. But still it is an increase of 17% since 1990, when it was a little more than 9,45,000.

Particulate Matter

Particulate Matters are fine particles, less than fraction of the width of a human hair. These particles are released from vehicles, particularly those with diesel engines, industry, as well as from natural sources like dust. They enter the bloodstream through the lungs, increasing the risk of stroke, heart failure and worsening cardiac disease, in addition also causing severe respiratory problems, like pneumonia and asthma.

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Environment Ministry notifies Graded Response Action Plan to combat air pollution in NCR

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified the Graded Response Action Plan to combat air pollution in NCR Delhi region.

In this regard, MoEFCC amended laws and formally tasked a Supreme Court-appointed panel with implementing a graded action plan for pollution control.

Key Facts
  • Graded Response Action Plan defines the measures to taken based on air quality on the basis of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the Air Pollution Gradesatmosphere.
  • Based on the air quality the grades have been classified as Emergency, Severe, Very Poor and Moderate poor. It will be enforced by Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).
  • Under this plan eemergency measures will be automatically enforced in NCR if level of PM2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre (µgm/m3) and PM10 levels stay above 500 (µgm/m3)for two consecutive days.
  • The plan recommends measures like odd-even car rationing scheme and ban on construction activities to combat air pollution.
  • During ‘very poor’ air quality, it recommends banning diesel generators and parking fee increased by three to four times.
  • It also lists a number of other measures such as closing brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants and intensifying public transport services and increasing the frequency of mechanised cleaning and sprinkling of water on roads.

For enforcement of the action plan, the Union Government has assigned the task of implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan to the EPCA (Environment Pollution Control Authority) in pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986).

Background

The Delhi specific comprehensive action plan was prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and was submitted to the Supreme Court in December 2016. The court had accepted the plan and asked the Union Government to notify it.

Particulate Matter (PM): They are tiny particles of dust which can cause very serious respiratory disorders and even damage the lungs.

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