A toxic smog has been hanging over Delhi and NCR for over four weeks now with the last three being really tough on the residents. Though the severity of the air pollution has dipped in the last few days due to the direction of the wind, the situation has again started worsening since Friday with many parts of Delhi-NCR recording a PM2.5 level of over 400.
A new survey by community social media platform LocalCircles asked residents “How many members of your family have experienced pollution-related ailments since mid-October till now?” to which the respondents indicated that on average 3 members in each Delhi-NCR family surveyed have experienced pollution-related health issues in the last three weeks while the percentage of families experiencing problems has further increased from 80% to 82% in the past 6 days.
A breakup of the data shows just 18% of the respondents have no one in their household feeling the ill effects of poor air quality. Of the remaining, 22% had one family member unwell; 12% had two unwell; 18% had 3 unwell; 24% had 4 unwell, and 6% households had 5 or more family members unwell. Considering that most households have three to five family members/relatives/friends living together, the survey outcome paints a picture of deep concern.
The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has been in power for almost eight years and, according to 72% of Delhi-NCR residents surveyed, it is responsible for their ill health due to pollution. 44% of them also hold the Punjab government responsible as it has not done much in the last seven years. In March, when AAP formed the Punjab government, the people of Delhi and NCR had a lot of hopes that at least the magnitude of pollution would reduce as solutions to stubble burning would be implemented, but so far both these state governments have nothing much to show.
Similarly, 32% people also held the central government responsible for showing a lack of leadership and interest in coordinating measures to tackle pollution problems and working with the Delhi and Punjab governments. While political blame games and mudslinging continues, residents of Delhi-NCR struggle to breathe, hoping that next year will be better provided these elected leaders put their act together.
The survey received over 22,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram & Faridabad. 63% respondents were men while 37% respondents were women.
Delhi was adjudged the most polluted city in the entire world, followed by Kolkata, West Bengal, by US-based Health Effects Institute in its report ‘Air Quality and Health in Cities’, released in August.
The HEI analysis of the most polluted cities in the entire world was done on the basis of the quantity of two of the most harmful pollutants in the atmosphere — fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Ambient (outdoor) air pollution causes fine particulate matter which can result in strokes, heart diseases, lung cancer, and acute and chronic respiratory diseases. The combined effects of ambient air pollution and household air pollution are associated with 7 million premature deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
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