The capital witnessed 981 deaths due to Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) from 2013 to 2017. Over 17 lakh others were diagnosed with ARI, stated a standing committee report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

The report said the polluted air in Delhi-NCR is a significant risk factor for a number of pollution-related diseases and health conditions, including respiratory infections, and recommended immediate corrective and preventive strategic steps in consultation to mitigate the air pollution. It has asked the health ministry to aggressively start an awareness campaign to educate people about the adverse health effects of air pollution, and the ways and means to minimise its adverse impacts.

In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) put Delhi amongst the 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels. An epidemiological study conducted in 2008 on effects of air pollution on human health (adults) in Delhi, referred to by the parliamentary committee in its report, shows citizens of the city were more susceptible to respiratory symptoms compared with those living in rural areas.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had said last year there is growing body of scientific research that shows that air pollution can permanently damage a child’s brain.

In a recent analysis conducted that involved 150 in-house patients suffering from lung cancer from March 2012 to June 2018, it was, found nearly half of the patients were non-smokers. While conventional wisdom states that smoking is its main cause, but now, there is strong evidence that points to the increasing role of air pollution in the rise of the cases, he said.

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