Children in Delhi Have Smaller Lungs Than American Kids Due to Pollution: Study

Smaller lung size affects children’s exercise capability and makes them more susceptible to infections.


Indian children have smaller lungs than their American counterparts, according to a new study. Children in the two countries have almost the same lung size till they reach the age of 8 years, when lungs complete their normal physical growth. However, beyond the age of 8 years, the lung size of Indian and Caucasian children differs, shows the study published in the Journal of Indian Pediatrics.

The research, that studied children living in Delhi and the United States, was conducted by Prof. SK Chhabra, a former Director-Professor at Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute and current Head of Department, Pulmonary Medicine, Primus Hospital, New Delhi. It found that boys and girls from Delhi have lungs that are 10 per cent smaller than their US counterparts when they reach adulthood.

The smaller lung size affects the children’s exercise capability and makes them more susceptible to infections. The study also talks about air quality and lung size. Bad air quality is shown to retard lung growth in Delhi’s children.

Air pollution in Delhi has reached pandemic proportions, and other Indian cities are not far behind. Gwalior, Ahmedabad, Patna and Raipur are some of the other polluted Indian cities. As many as 40 per cent of children in India live in cities.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in its report “Towards a clean air action plan: Lessons from Delhi” said that it is important to control crop fires and road dust, ban use of diesel generator sets, curb brick kilns, and stop garbage combustion, besides taking other measures.

“If this does not wake us up to the health emergency, what will?,” Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, CSE, said. “Those who are in denial over environmental pollution-related deaths and illnesses in India should understand that the scary death tally and illnesses in Indians and children make a mockery of the country’s growth story. India will have to do drastically a lot more to reduce pollution exposure and not less. It will be criminal not to act on the mounting health evidence and ask for more evidence from our own children, the elderly and the vulnerable.”

Meanwhile, the odd-even scheme for allowing cars with specific number plates on the road each day is on hold in Delhi as the government withdrew its petition to make changes. The National Green Tribunal had questioned the need for exceptions to rule, such as for two-wheelers and women car drivers. The green court also told the government that opening schools at this moment is criminal and that they should ask students to wear masks. The government had sought exemption for women drivers and two-wheelers, but the green tribunal suggested announcement of women-only days during the period of the scheme.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *