Docs say it’s like a death sen­tence!

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YOGESH Ku­mar wheezes af­ter life-sav­ing surgery to re­move a dis­eased lung, but his doc­tors won­der how long he can last out­side hos­pi­tal breath­ing some of the world's dirt­i­est air. Smog is blamed for the deaths of more than one mil­lion In­di­ans ev­ery year and Delhi -- which on Mon­day had emer­gency pol­lu­tion lev­els more than 35 times the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion safe limit -has the worst air of any global cap­i­tal. Ev­ery Novem­ber, hos­pi­tal wards fill with gasp­ing pa­tients as the tell-tale thick grey haze which hit on Mon­day shrouds the city of 20 mil­lion.

Delhi air is like a death sen­tence for him, said Srini­vas K. Gopinath, a tho­racic sur­geon at Sir Ganga Ram hos­pi­tal in the In­dian cap­i­tal where 29-year-old Ku­mar was treated. Gopinath fears for his pa­tient, who sur­vived tu­ber­cu­lo­sis but is now at the mercy of an­other in­vis­i­ble killer. As cooler air traps pol­lu­tants close to the ground, Delhi's lev­els of PM2.5 -- par­ti­cles so tiny they can en­ter the lungs and blood­stream -soar dan­ger­ously.

One of the worst times is around the fes­ti­val of Di­wali as smoke from mil­lions of crackers set off by fes­tive rev­ellers min­gles with car ex­haust, fac­tory emis­sions, con­struc­tion dust and smoke from crop fires in nearby states. Pol­lu­tion read­ings can reach so high they do not reg­is­ter on sci­en­tific in­stru­ments. In the Anand Vi­har sub­urb, the PM2.5 level rock­eted to 908 on Mon­day. The WHO sets 25 as its rec­om­mended av­er­age safe level. Ku­mar is due to be dis­charged from hos­pi­tal around the time of the fes­ti­val on Wed­nes­day. In­side (the hos­pi­tal) the air qual­ity is main­tained, but once he steps out the bad air will start af­fect­ing him,

Chil­dren are suf­fer­ing the most from Delhi's smog

Gopinath told AFP. His re­sis­tance is weak. He has only one lung which is now re­ally pre­cious. Imag­ine hav­ing to cope up with such bad air with only one lung.

But Ku­mar is far from alone. Chil­dren, the el­derly and those with res­pi­ra­tory ail­ments like asthma suf­fer the most from Delhi's smog, which lingers un­til late Fe­bru­ary. Ex­po­sure to toxic air kills hun­dreds of thou­sands of chil­dren ev­ery year, the WHO said in an Oc­to­ber re­port. Chil­dren breathe more rapidly than adults, tak­ing twice as much pol­luted air into their tiny bod­ies. AFP

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