‘Household air pollution affecting children's health in Karachi’

‘Household air pollution affecting children's health in Karachi’

KARACHI: As the household air pollution is on the rise in Karachi due to vehicles rise and population influx, it is affecting children's health, causing respiratory diseases among children and adults.

The government needs to raise awareness among people about this pollution while people may also take steps to keep the windows of their houses and kitchen open so as to avert implication of this pollution. The rising population and traffic influx and household smoke emissions are dangerous to the public health in Karachi, the hub of economic activities in Pakistan.

According to a WHO report, almost three billion people worldwide continue to depend on polluting fuels, including biomass fuels (wood, dung, agricultural residues), kerosene and coal, for their energy needs. Cooking and heating with polluting fuels on open fires or traditional stoves results in high levels of household air pollution. Indoor smoke contains a range of health-damaging pollutants, such as small particles and carbon monoxide, and particulate pollution levels may be 20 times higher than accepted guideline values.

There is consistent evidence that exposure to household air pollution can lead to acute lower respiratory infections in children under five, and ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer in adults. In 2012, household air pollution was responsible for 7.7% of the global mortality.

Around 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using solid fuels (i.e. wood, charcoal, coal, dung, crop wastes) on open fires or traditional stoves. Such inefficient cooking and heating practices produce high levels of household (indoor) air pollution which includes a range of health damaging pollutants such as fine particles and carbon monoxide.

In poorly ventilated dwellings, smoke in and around the home can exceed acceptable levels for fine particles 100-fold. Exposure is particularly high among women and young children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth. According to WHO, 4.3 million people a year die from the exposure to household air pollution. To combat this substantial and growing burden of disease, WHO has developed a comprehensive programme to support developing countries.



Published in Daily Times, August 15th 2017.