We recently wrote an article on the air pollution in Delhi reaching the ‘very poor’ on the Air Quality Index (AQI). The quality of air has become so bad that people living in the capital might die 6 years earlier. As winter approaches, the car fumes, factory emissions, crop burning, and firecrackers make the situation worse.
To depict what happens to our lungs when we breathe this air, Shri Ganga Ram Hospital in Rajender Nagar installed a pair of fake lungs outside their hospital. The giant pair of lungs was installed to showcase how harmful Delhi has actually become. It was a joint initiative by Jhatkaa.org, a Bengaluru based NGO, Help Delhi Breathe and the Lung Care Foundation.
The lungs were placed outside the busy parking lot of the hospital on November 3rd. They were made of HEPA material which is the same material which is used in face masks. Moreover, it they was also fitted with fans to imitate the breathing in and out. According to Dr. Aravind Kumar, he got the idea of putting the faux lungs on display while sharing images of lungs he had been operating on. The management of Ganga Ram Hospital was encouraging and immediately accepted the offer to put the lungs on display.
Within just 48 hours of the lungs being placed, the original snow-white color changed to grey. “We had thought that it would take at least a month and a half for the lungs to get dark. But the lungs changed colour in just 24 hours. On Day 6, the lungs have become completely black,” Kumar said. Shrishti Kumar of Jhatkaa.org said that they had started this project in multiple cities as well, including Bengaluru. It was installed in February 2018. It was grey by the third day and turned black in over three weeks.
Before Diwali, doctors in Delhi had declared a state of medical emergency. More than 250 patients had lined-up outside Ram Manohar Hospital’s OPD department. India is home to 14 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. However, Delhi was dubbed the most polluted major centre. The AQI was recorded at 999 in Delhi’s Anand Vihar and around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, and at 459 in the Chanakyapuri area around the US embassy — all going well above the ‘Hazardous’ category. According to a WHO report, at least 1,00,000 children under 5 years died in India due to hazardous levels of pollution.
People have not only complained of respiratory problems but also skin and eye infections along with chances of asthma and lung cancer. With these natural as well as man-made causes, residents of Delhi and NCR once again stare at a health hazard.
By Abhishek Aggarwal