Brain damaging heavy metals found in Delhi, Gurugram air as quality dips further

By: | Published: January 18, 2019 5:19 PM

Meanwhile, the lung care foundation has demanded that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) initiates monitoring of heavy metals in dust and publish results periodically along with health advisories.

The matter is of very serious concern that such high levels of these toxic metals are found in the air that our children breathe (Source: ANI)

In a report released by the Lung Care Foundation, alarming levels of ‘brain damaging’ heavy metals such as manganese, nickel and lead have been found in Delhi and Gurugram air during November and December 2018. These metals are in addition to the well-known PM2.5 pollutant.

The report titled ‘death in every breath’ analysed seven samples of air taken from Delhi and Gurgaon. In all the collected samples PM2.5 were above statutory levels.

The report mentioned that the PM2.5 levels in the samples ranged from 90.3 to 563.5 micrograms per unit and were between 1.5 and 9.4 times higher than standards prescribed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

Meanwhile, the report further mentioned that the manganese levels, in five of the seven samples exceed the US EPA Reference Concentration for exposure to manganese (0.05 micrograms per unit). The World Health Organisation annual health-based guidelines mentioned the same value at 0.15.

Also Read: Delhi’s air quality remains in ‘severe’ category!

However, the report also stated that there are no set standards in India for the manganese in the ambient air. Scientists say that heavy metals like manganese, lead and nickel are neurotoxins that damage the brain and children are more vulnerable to the effects of lead. Exposures to even low levels of lead early in life have been linked to effects on IQ, memory, learning and behaviour.

According to experts, the matter is of very serious concern that such high levels of these toxic metals are found in the air that our children breathe.

Shockingly, Barium was also found in the air collected post-Diwali. The barium level in the sample a day before Diwali was 21.5 micrograms per unit, on the day of Diwali the air sample had barium level of 5.8, and a day after Diwali, the barium level in the sample was 2.4, the report said.

Reportedly, Dr Mark Chernaik, Staff Scientist at Environment Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), US, in a statement said, these levels are extremely high and unheard of. Typically, barium levels are lower than 0.05 micrograms per unit. Based on limited human and animal data, the respiratory tract is the most sensitive target following inhalation of this metal.

Meanwhile, the lung care foundation has demanded that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) initiates monitoring of heavy metals in dust and publish results periodically along with health advisories.

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