According to nation-wide survey report titled Breathe Blue'15, a worrisome 21 per cent of the children surveyed in Delhi have been tagged with 'Poor' lung capacity in the Lung Health Screening Test (LHST) conducted on them while another 19 per cent faring as 'bad'.
Together this segment forms a whopping 40 per cent of the children surveyed.
This was followed by Bangalore at 36 per cent (14 per cent 'Poor' and 22 per cent 'Bad'), 35 per cent in Kolkata (9 per cent 'Poor' and 26 per cent 'Bad') and 27 per cent in Mumbai (13 per cent 'Poor' and 14 per cent 'Bad').
The survey included 2,000 school students in the age group of 8-14 from all parts of the county.
"The Lung Health Screening Test determines how much air the lungs can hold, how quickly one can move air in and out of their lungs, and how well the lungs take oxygen in and remove carbon dioxide out from the body. The tests can detect lung diseases and measure the severity of lung problems. Poor results on LHST mean compromised lung function and high possibilities of contracting pulmonary diseases," Dr Preetaish Kaul, representative of HEAL Foundation said.
"While rising air pollution in the country poses serious health risks for all, it is more worrisome for children as they are yet in their growth years with vital organs of the body physiologically not mature enough to deal with it," Dr Raj Kumar, HOD Department of Respiratory allergy and applied Immunology said.
He said there was an urgent need to raise awareness among people and figure out ways to address this issue effectively.
The survey indicated that only 15, 24, 27 and 9 per cent people in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata think that even they as individuals are also responsible for current level of air pollution.
Overall 46, 63 and 96 per cent bikers, non-ac car drivers, owners and ac car drivers or owners do not generally turn off their engine either because of laziness or luxury.
96 per cent think that turning the engine off and on consume more fuel. Also, 86 per cent people think idle engine does not produce such fumes. 67, 72, 56 and 84 per cent people in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata respectively didn't know when PUC gets due for renewal.
"While most of us broadly know that air pollution is dangerously high in the country, dearth of health indicators always diluted the gravity of the problem. We are sure that the survey results will update people to the perils of air pollution. The ideas behind the campaign is to sensitize people and to educate them on making choices that help reduce air pollution," said social activist and academician, Nupur Ray, Member Breathe Blue.
Environment activist Kamal Meattle added, "Reckless cutting of trees, rapid urbanisation and above all, a dearth of environment friendly laws, surely we have a recipe for disaster!
"With some of our cities already listed as the most-polluted in the world, it's high time we take up the issue on priority basis and figure out ways to control pollution."