Lung Health Screening Test important for children in Delhi’s polluted air: Doctors

New Delhi: As children in Delhi continue to be affected by high pollution levels, doctors have urged parents to conduct Lung Health Screening Test (LHST) for their children as their vital organs are not mature enough to tackle the polluted air.

The doctors, quoting a World Health Organisation (WHO) survey, said that children in the National Capital are worst affected with 21 per cent having ‘poor’ lung capacity.

“While rising air pollution in the country poses serious health risks to all, it is more worrisome for children as their vital organs are not mature enough to deal with it. LHST is extremely important for the children to go through,” said Rakesh Chawla, Senior Consultant of Respiratory Medicine at city based Saroj Super Speciality Hospital.

According to the doctors, LHST determines the capacity of the lungs to hold air. Through it the doctors can figure out how quickly one can move air in and out of the child’s lungs, how well the lungs take in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the body.

“The tests can detect lung diseases and measure the severity. Poor results on LHST mean compromised lung function and high possibilities of contracting pulmonary diseases,” said Chawla.

The WHO survey over air pollution’s affect on children’s lungs has also revealed that 14 per cent of children are badly affected by the air pollution in Bengaluru, while the figure stood at 13 per cent in Mumbai and 9 per cent in Kolkata.

The respiratory experts said that the worst affected by air pollution are children who commute in “unpacked” vehicles as they are more exposed to dust particles in the air. In Delhi alone, about 92 per cent children using UPT (unpacked transport) fared ‘poor’ against eight per cent who used PT (packed transport).

“The rise in PM 2.5 has been causing problems for the people with age extremities. With kids under the age of five years suffer breathing problems as their immune system is damaged. While elderly are complaining about congestion, sinusitis, asthma, difficulty in breathing. As PM 2.5 is very fine, it can settle in the developing lungs of kids and worsen asthma and other respiratory problems,” said Ashutosh Shukla, head of medicine at Artemis hospital.

Stating that air pollution has emerged as the deadliest form of pollution and the fourth leading risk factor for premature deaths worldwide, he said: “Of the total premature deaths globally, more than one-fourth are from India.”

According to another report of WHO, Delhi leads the list of world’s most polluted cities.

Of the top 20 most polluted cities, 13 cities are from India. Delhi’s pollution contributed to 4.3 million deaths annually which are related to pneumonia, stroke, lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Coal based pollution in the environment will always be significant in India as it is the leading energy generation source. The microscopic particles are so light they float on air and lodge deep in the lungs, and have been linked to higher rates of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and heart disease. it said.