Published on March 11, 2014
Hi there ! Hi. My name is Dasarathi. Everyone just calls me Das. This is a small story about me.
The story started 14 years ago, in 1999 My daughter, Amala, was 4 years old. She used to have frequent bouts of coughing and wheezing. Generally relieved by an inhaler, but my wife and I frequently had to rush her to a nearby clinic for nebulization, usually near midnight. Common story, right ? A lot of children have this problem.
My story, now - 2014 For a few months I had a persistent cough and sore throat, snored, slept poorly at night. I've had hypertension for the past 3 years. Recently, 3 times in as many weeks, I got a bad cough and fever for a couple of days.
And then, one fine day One day I coughed into the wash basin and saw this. Grey phlegm, when the normal colour is a pale yellow. I was horrified, then realized that the grey was from air pollution, went out and bought a pollution mask. My phlegm Water
I started using a mask.... After 3 days of use, this is what my mask looked like. After a week, the cough and phlegm disappeared, the snoring stopped, I was sleeping better. After 3 days New mask
That's Particulate matter (PM), microscopic liquid and solid particles suspended in air, created from automobile exhaust gases. Larger particles can get into the lungs and stay there. Smaller particles get into the bloodstream. The particulate matter was destroying my lungs and my sleep, and my heart. What WAS that grey stuff in my lungs ? More about PM: http://www.baaqmd.gov/Divisions/Planning-and-Research/Particulate-Matter.aspx
Why is PM affecting me so badly, more than it affects other people ? Because my vehicle has been a bicycle for the past 14 years. So what ? A cyclist's metabolic rate is 4 times more than that of a car or bike driver. I breathe in 4 times more air per minute, and hence 4 times more pollutants. The same air quality affects me 4 times more.
That's YOUR problem ! Who's asking you to cycle ? No, it's not just my problem ! My daughter had the same problem at age 4, and she didn't even know how to cycle! Children have high metabolic rates required for growth, and because they are more active than adults. They breathe in 3-4 times more air than adults, relative to their body size. Every child has exactly the same problem as me. Metabolism in children – WHO manual: http://www.who.int/ceh/capacity/Children_are_not_little_adults.pdf http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/ems/pdf/assmttools.pdf
PM kills children ! http://www.epa.gov/pm/2012/fshealth.pdf - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - World Health Organization Health effects of particulate matter- WHO, EPA http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/189051/Health-effects-of-particulate-matter-final-Eng.pdf
The effects of PM on children Infant mortality Low birth weight Cancer Chronic respiratory diseases, like asthma Chronically reduced lung growth rate Impaired long term lung function Premature death related to heart disease Heart attacks and strokes Source: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/pr221_E.pdf
How much PM are our children breathing in ? Rise of air pollution in Bangalore over the past decade was 2nd highest in the world, among 189 cities. In Bangalore, particulate matter on busy roads is 6 times the WHO limit. Source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/ http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/newdelhi/india-tops-china-in-air-pollution-level-increase/article1-966208.aspx
And who's generating the PM ? Fuel consumption, gm. / passenger / km. The more fuel you use, the more PM you generate. People who use cars and 2-wheelers are the biggest culprits. Source: http://www.energymanagertraining.com/Journal/Making%20the%20transport%20sector%20more%20energy%20efficient.pdf http://www.ssmrae.com/admin/images/9f4edb1a7bb3c165489035e9d6a04f3c.pdf
You're killing your child ! How is this different from this ? This is quick This is slow
It's decision making time When do you plan to stop killing your child ?
Do you want to stop killing your child ? Get rid of the weapon - your car or bike. Switch to sustainable transport - walk, cycle or use public transport – bus, train, auto, taxi. If you want to stop killing your child
You can come up with a million excuses, but... Your possible excuses Buses are too inconvenient, autos are too noisy. The footpaths are bad, I cannot walk. Cycling is unsafe, and I'm not fit enough. My 'status' does not allow me to take a bus or cycle. And your child ? Walks or cycles in the neighbourhood Takes a bus to school Uses sustainable transport, but is the victim of your addiction to your automobile. Which of your excuses is big enough to kill your child ?
How did I stop killing MY child ? 14 years ago, I realized that my own automobile was contributing to the pollution that was killing my child. Since then, my main vehicle has been a bicycle. I cycle, walk or use public transport. I use a car only occasionally. I'm 54 now. Amala is now 18, uses public transport or walks, refuses to ride a 2-wheeler even though she is legally allowed to.
Your child will thank you ! Stop killing your child ! Today ! firstname.lastname@example.org
But others will still be killing my child ! It's not enough to use sustainable transport. 1. Persuade others to use it too. Copy my story, modify it, make your own story, talk to people. 2. Force the government to change the transport systems in the city. 3. Let's get together, in convincing people to stop killing their child.
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