‘Air pollution exposes school children to health hazards’

From Our Correspondent

 Guwahati: Schoolchildren in Shillong and Guwahati are found to be the most susceptible to various diseases caused by air pollution as per finding of a study on ‘Impact of air pollution in specific areas of Guwahati and Shillong on vulnerable groups’ that was carried out by the Centre for Northeast Studies and Policy Research (C-NES) under the sponsorship of the Foundation for Social Transformation (FST).

The C-NES managing trustee Sanjoy Hazarika informed that the study was undertaken to assess the adverse impact on the health of the people in the two big cities of the Northeast due of rising level of air pollution.

The study covered on vulnerable groups like schoolchildren, labourers, rickshaw pullers, traffic police personnel, petrol station workers and roadside vendors. Forty per cent of the respondents comprised schoolchildren, who invariably complained of respiratory, skin and eye ailments, mostly attributed to vehicular pollution.

Khanapara (Guwahati) and Police Bazaar (Shillong) topped the list as the most air-polluted areas of the two cities. The survey was conducted among 1,000 individuals in select areas of the two cities.

In Guwahati, the study was carried out in five areas — Khanapara, Bamunimaidam, Dispur, Gopinath Nagar and Shantipur while it was conducted at Police Bazar, Fire Brigade point and Malki point in Shillong.

“Clean water and clean air are basic human rights. The hazards of air pollution are increasing dangerously and each one of us has a role to play in our own right, to mitigate the problem. There is urgent need to raise the level of awareness among the common people about the adverse impact of air pollution”, said Hazarika.

He informed that the study report would soon be submitted to the Pollution Control Board of the respective states.

“We are also planning to carry out similar studies in other cities of the N-E subject to availability of funds,” Hazarika said.

A majority of the respondents, according to the report, said they do not conduct a regular pollution check-up of their vehicles in spite of it being a mandatory requirement. “It has also come to light that most of the emission testing centres are incompatible for advanced engines like Bharat Stage III and IV,” the report said.

The report observed that the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) levels in Guwahati’s Bamunimaidam, Dispur/Khanapara, Gopinath Nagar and Shantipur areas were much above the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The study also collected air temperature data for the last six years from Indian Meteorological Station, Borjhar, Guwahati and Directorate of Agriculture, Shillong. From the collected data seven degree Celsius rise in air temperature was observed in Guwahati while Shillong recorded a rise of ten degree Celsius.

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