Days after the Centre for Science and Environment stated that air pollution is responsible for 30 per cent of premature deaths in India, doctors have claimed that air pollution is also compromising mental health of children apart from their lungs.
The doctors say that the presence of nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides in the air affects brain cells which causes a decrease in the IQ level.
"As children are in a growing stage, when they inhale polluted air, the pollutants through their blood travels to different parts of the body including brain, " said Raj Kumar, Director (Acting), of the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute here.
"Pollutants like NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and SO2 (sulphur dioxide) affect the brain cells which causes decrease in IQ level and other related problems. "
According to the CSE report, over 61 per cent of total deaths in India were attributed to lifestyle or non - communicable diseases.
"More than 1. 73 million new cancer cases are likely to be recorded each year by 2020, air pollution, tobacco, alcohol and diet change are primary triggers, " said the report "Body Burden" by CSE.
A study published in the British Medical Journal found that relatively small increase in air pollution can cause significant increase in treated psychiatric problems, with its results showing mental and cognitive health is at great risk due to polluted air, putting children at even higher risk.
The research involved examining pollution exposure in 500, 000 participants under 18 and comparing it with records of medicines prescribed for mental illnesses, ranging from sedatives to anti - psychotics.
"Children are more vulnerable to such health risks as their lung capacity is small and respiratory rate high, therefore they are more likely to inhale more air per unit of their body weight than adults, " said Deepali Batra, Senior Consultant and Clinical Psychologist, Max Hospital Delhi.
Stressing that detrimental health impacts of air pollution seem to be increasing with each passing day as pollution level reaches to extremely toxic, she said the new studies shows that the "future of our kids is in grave danger until such situations are handled with every means necessary".