- Nearly 35% New Delhi’s population has suffered damage to its lungs. This is what the results of the latest survey say. They have the citizens of the Indian capital so worried that they have temporarily gotten over their irritation at the odd/even number automobile regulation. A Hindustan Times report on January 16th reported that the New Delhi Municipal Government commissioned experts from Maulana Azad Medical College to carry out a lung function examination of the New Delhi public for a duration of 15 days. Preliminary reports reveal that 1037 people out of the 3019 people who participated in test suffer from impaired lung functions in varying degrees This test is considered an important part of the Municipal Government’s efforts to manage the air pollution problem, alongside keeping the people in a heightened state of alert and awareness on the air pollution issue.
From January 1-15, 10 minibuses, equipped with the test equipment, went around to 10 of New Delhi’s most densely populated areas. Together, medical experts and volunteers encouraged citizens to participate in their lung function test. This Global Times reporter observed that the method was very simple: all the tester had to do was simply exhale-in and exhale-out once in front of the instrument. A score of 90% means good lung function, 80% average functionality and less than 70% means that lung function are impaired in a certain degree.
Test results over the course of 15 days shockingly revealed that more than 1/3 of the participants had lung function damage. Medical experts claimed that “although it cannot be concluded with certainly that the damage in lung function is related to the current air pollution issue, its correlation is obvious”. In Gekapurui, one of the 10 areas, 48.25% of those that tested suffered from lung function damage. An expert currently studying why this area has yielded the worst results claimed that “the mobility of people here is far more than Rajiv Chowk or Central Delhi districts. That said, their (test participant’s) work and rest patterns/timetable needs be further analyzed”. Sang Dila, a community health Department Director of the Medical College, said “if people have lung damage they should go to the hospital or utilise auxiliary breathing device to avoid aggravating the damage.
The implementation of “street lung test” in New Delhi captured people’s attention right from the start. Over the past two days, this reporter has observed a lot of people leaving comments on the Hindustan Times online forum. A Netizen going by the alias “bush rema”commented that on the first day of the public test, “it was frustrating to see people shaking their heads in the face of their lung function damage.There are more and more people in New Delhi who are going to have to pay for the treatment of Pulmonary Tuberculosis with money that they might have planned to spend on vegetables, fruits or simply enjoying their life. I can’t say with certainty that all those with lung disease can be associated with air pollution, but people cannot ignore this problem any more.”Another netizen going by the alias “Sri Jay” believes that the actions being taken by the government action are correct and will help make more people clearly understand the seriousness of the matter.
People in the Center of Delhi’s administrative region are mostly on-the-job, government functionaries with a high rate of mobility, i.e at any time a given individual may be from any place in the country. Therefore, does their lung function problem mean the problem of air pollution is not just limited to the capital? One netizen simply dismissed the “street lung test”, claiming that “New Delhi officials should have known about the the seriousness of the problem long ago. If such street simple test measures can verify the lung function of the individual, why not install the same equipment along the sewers of the polluting enterprises? There is a lot of research saying that industrial waste gas is the biggest contributor to new Delhi’s air pollution. Why does the municipal government have to frighten people with a lung examination to make them drive less?”
Officials from the New Delhi Municipal government said in an interview that the lung function examination is one of the measures to manage urban air pollution control. It will serve as intuitive proof for citizens who have been hearing about how “air pollution can affect the health”. Moreover, the Medical community can then further analyze the test results and provide detailed conclusions that can be used as reference material by various decision-making departments of the Municipal Government.
The implementation of vehicle restrictions based on the odd and even plate number for half the month has tangibly reduced traffic flows in New Delhi. There is also data that reveals that the PM 2.5 value has fallen 15% compared with the corresponding period. However,residents of New Delhi have an intuitive sense that the air quality is not getting better in the capital. In fact, many of them believe that the air pollution is getting worse. Meteorological experts said that because meteorological conditions in New Delhi in January is the most severe, air circulation is the least, and these measures are not sufficient enough to affect overall air cleanliness.
Citizens of New Delhi have taken matters into their own hands in a bid to confront the “unchanged” levels of air pollution. Old people and children try not to partake of outdoor activities, office workers wear anti-dust masks, while and families with financial capabilities to do so are buying air purifiers. Following the implementation of the the vehicle restrictions, Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of New Delhi, also commended citizen’s success in changing their driving habits to adhere to the the odd and even plate number rule, saying “in the past 15 days citizens of New Delhi have abided by the the vehicle restrictions dutifully—not because the threat of the Rs. 2000 rupees fine but because the people of New Delhi genuinely realize that everyone needs to act to control air pollution”.