India: Born To Smoke

On the first day of her life, a child who is born in Delhi takes in air that is the equivalent of smoking 20-25 cigarettes, according to a story by Abhaya Srivastava for Agence France Presse, quoting Arvind Kumar, a prominent Delhi lung surgeon.

For years, the surgeon has campaigned to raise awareness about the dangers of air pollution, which the World Health Organization last month likened to the tobacco epidemic.

Many of the patients he sees already bear physical scars from breathing a lifetime of Delhi air.

¡°These are non-smokers, but even they have black lungs,¡± he was quoted as saying.

¡°Even teenagers have black spots on their lungs. This is frightening.¡±

AFP reported that, despite Delhi¡¯s smog reappearing every winter, official efforts to combat it had been ineffectual.

Emergency measures such as banning construction, cutting down on traffic and prohibiting the use of diesel generators had had little effect.

At the same time, longer-term solutions remained elusive. State governments had refused to co-operate on root causes of the crisis, such as farmers using fire to clear their land on the outskirts of Delhi.

But Kumar was quoted as saying that pollution had to be tackled at its source. ¡°Everything else is just eyewash,¡± he said.  Enditem

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