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Indoor air pollution

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Environmental Pollution & Degradation

 

Source: DTE

 Context: According to a study, India’s poor indoor air quality can impair cognitive development in children under two years when brain growth is at its peak.

 

Highlights of the study:

  • Poor air quality in households that used solid cooking materials such as cow dung cake.
  • Very small particulate fragments (PM 2.5) in the air are a major concern as they can move from the respiratory tract into the brain.
  • Infants (<2 years) from these houses had lower visual memory scores and slower visual processing speeds.
  • As children grow up in polluted environments, their developing organs and bodies are affected.

  

Impact: Long-term consequences for life → lower economic productivity → increased burden on healthcare and mental health systems.

  

Concerns for India:

  • According to the State of Global Air 2020 report, over 116,000 infants in India died within a month of birth in 2019 due to air pollution, outdoor and indoor.
  • Every third child in Delhi has impaired lungs making them vulnerable to metabolic diseases.

 

Recommendations: Since indoor air quality is linked to cooking fuels, efforts to reduce cooking emissions should be a key target for intervention.

 

Control measures:

  • Public awareness
  • Change in pattern of fuel use (PM Ujjwala Yojana, National Biogas and Manure Management Programme, GOBARdhan Scheme)
  • Modification of design of cooking stove (Unnat Chulha Abhiyan)
  • Improvement in ventilation
  • Intersectoral coordination and global initiative