Is it Time to Change Our Default Setting?

Children as a group are the most susceptible to harmful pollutants in our air. As our fuels have gotten smarter, so have the emissions – I call them ‘smart pollutants.’ They are so small that they escape the natural filters of the body and penetrate deep into the lungs, and then the bloodstream.

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So, I write this as a parent of 2 beautiful young boys, who live with the guilt of raising them in a City with the worst air quality in the World.

Being an environmental activist and entrepreneur, I know too much!!

When they play outside, I am constantly worried, that they will get a respiratory attack, or worse, a stroke, and when they are indoors, I am always fighting to keep them off technology. There’s no upside here, and frankly, every parent knows the importance of outdoor play for brain development.

Children as a group are the most susceptible to harmful pollutants in our air. As our fuels have gotten smarter, so have the emissions – I call them ‘smart pollutants.’ They are so small that they escape the natural filters of the body and penetrate deep into the lungs, and then the bloodstream. We call these PM2.5 – particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 microns. These get generated as a result of combustion and are carcinogenic. Yes, they cause cancer!!

The safe level of PM2.5 is under 10ug/m3 and our City averages 143ug/m3 through the year. An average concentration of 22ug/m3 inhaled through the year is the equivalent of smoking 1 cigarette a day, just by breathing. By this estimation, my boys smoke 6.5 cigarettes per day, just by breathing. That is more than 2,400 cigarettes a year!!

These carcinogenic particles impair lung development and function, cause respiratory problems and other ailments like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, mental disorders, auto-immune disease, diabetes, infertility and more.

Parks and areas of green cover are even worse as they are a sink for ground level ozone, which when combined with PM2.5, is lethal!!

I know as parents we are spread really thin between our careers, personal and parental commitments, however, our greatest responsibility is the health and safety of our child.

With the peak pollution season around the corner, I have a few requests:

1. Be aware and conscious of the environmental realities of your City

2. Please work on protecting your child in a micro-environment

3. Work with your child’s school on medical preparedness and safety protocols

4. In your local clubs, RWA, business, friends and family, spread awareness and sow the seeds of change.

I really see no other option, as our City braces for yet another Airpocalypse!!


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