Deonar fire: 8 things you should do to protect your children from air pollution
The Deaonar dumping ground fire has dramatically increased the air pollution levels in Mumbai. Read on to know how you can protect your kids from the smog
Hours after the third fresh fire was doused in Mumbai’s Deonar dumping ground, the city is still reeling under a thick smog. The fire that started two days back, (followed by the one in January-end) has already engulfed major areas of the city. This has led to several residents complaining of major respiratory problems, especially among young kids.
“The air is laden with smoke in the mornings. In fact, today my elder son (8 years) complained of some itchiness in his eyes. My younger son (3 years) said he doesn’t like the smell of the air anymore. Also, since the pollution levels have increased, morning walks have become a bad experience. Earlier, I would step down with my kids for 10 minutes before the bus’s arrival time. Now, I only do so only 1-2 minutes before,” complains homemaker and Chembur resident, Madhu Singh.
Many residents such as Singh, are complaining of increasing respiratory problems among young children and elders. In fact, Mumbai residents (near the dumping ground) started a social media campaign to bring more awareness about the subject.
They even quoted a February 7, tweet by Chief Minister Devender Fadnavis, that read, “Asked MC Ajoy Mehta to initiate swift action & time bound plan for corrective steps,” (among his other tweets).
Deonar Dumping Ground Fire: Major developments
- The Deonar dumping ground, which is situated in the city’s eastern suburb is Indian’s largest and oldest dumping ground.
- On January 28, this year, a major fire broke out in these dumping grounds. The situation was so bad that schools around the area had to shut down.
- Another fire broke our in February and the latest one started on March 21 (2016).
- The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), estimated that Mumbai’s average level of fine respirable pollutants PM 2.5 fell in the ‘poor’ category. Even the air quality index (AQI) of Mumbai measured poorly.
- While an AQI of 301-400 is considered very poor, giving rise to respiratory illnesses on prolonged exposure. If it’s between 201 and 300, it is regarded as poor, which may lead to breathing discomfort. Areas of Mumbai near the dumping ground, including Chembur and Bandra Kurla Complex stations recorded 301 and 309 AQI, respectively.
As per the India’s National Health Profile 2015 report, the year 2014, reported 3.5m cases of acute respiratory infections, among other health conditions. In fact, the country witnessed an overall 30 percent increase in respiratory infections since 2010.
Continue reading to know more about what parents can do to protect children from increasing air pollution.
What parents can do
As a parent, you must already be on an ‘alert’ mode. But if you haven’t yet figured out the ways to deal with smog, you can begin by telling your children about it and how it can affect them if they are not careful.
- Check pollution levels in your area: You can always keep an eye on the pollution levels in your area. Most news channels and apps are now giving snippet information about the air condition in various regions, track them before leaving the house.
- Take extra care: Keep a tab on the health conditions of members of your family who already suffer from mild or chronic asthma, pulmonary and even lung diseases. Reduce their travel time outside the house.
- Limit outdoor activities: The first fire at Deonar forced schools to shut down, so for those areas still affected by smog make sure you limit your child’s outdoor activities. Make sure to send them outside only when you feel the smog levels have come down.
- Find out if the school is prepared: You can always consult with your child’s school to know how well-prepared they are for the smog. They should ideally have systems in place to alert students and teachers when smog levels increase. They should also curtail outdoor activities when necessary.
- Use protectants: Always go out carrying handkerchiefs or glasses in order to protect your nose and eyes. Do the same for your children.
- Keep them clean: Always try to keep your children hygienic and clean. Make sure they shower once back home and properly clean their hands and face to avoid any infection from the dirty air.
- Avoid areas filled with dirt: Try to avoid areas that are prone to air pollution and smog. Also, avoid walking on the roadside during the daytime (if possible) and even shabby colonies.
- Exercise: You should also encourage your kids to practice breathing exercises in the morning and during the evening. If you can’t find green spaces, you can always do this indoor.
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