Delhi. Photo: Mike_fleming

By Jesus Hernandez, Age 10

Air pollution kills around 7 million people worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organization, and health organizations around the world are scrambling to keep up with the growing threat.

Poor air quality is fueled, in part, by fumes from cars, buses and factories, as well as the burning of fields. It’s worse in places that might have more relaxed regulations around their environmental impact.

Nowhere is the situation more hazardous than in India.

The South Asian country is currently home to seven of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, according to a new report from AirVisual, an air quality data tracker. According to the World Health Organization, the world’s most polluted city in the world is India’s capital, New Delhi, where air pollution reached toxic levels this November. Government officials started restricting car use, shutting elementary schools and halting construction projects to try to reduce it.

One of the most vulnerable groups of people impacted by air pollution are children, because of their developing lungs and cardiovascular systems, the system that moves blood and nutrients around your body. “Polluted air is poisoning millions of children and ruining their lives,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director-general, in a 2018 statement. “This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfil their full potential.”

“Negative health effects can be exacerbated by air pollution especially if the Indian government does not set regulations to reduce current levels in major cities and other populated regions of the country,” Dawn Roberts-Semple, an assistant professor in environmental science at York College in New York, told IndyKids in an email.

Earlier this year, India’s government introduced a five-year program to improve the dangerous air quality for its citizens, but some environmentalists said the plan doesn’t go far enough.

“The plan requires more localized actions at the city level and the regional level with a clear timeline and action plan,” Anumita Roychowdhury, a director at the Center for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization in New Delhi, told The New York Times in January.

Glossary: 

Hazardous – Dangerous and exposing someone to risk.