Clean air is our right: CEED’s health advisory project

Air pollution has long been a serious problem in Delhi. The city continues to be one of the most polluted cities in the world and is also referred as “the asthma capital”. The subject of air pollution in megacities has been widely discussed and documented. However, the topic of discussion has always been addressed episodically, when the pollutant concentration is way higher. We need to realise that air pollution is not just an impending, but a pertaining issue, that might fluctuate with season, but the peak values comes out more pronounced than the last each time.

Public health is of utmost importance; the worsening air quality and increasing health impacts demand immediate interventions to mitigate pollution levels to lessens the respective health risks involved.  Issuing regular health advisory is an effective solution to aware the masses regarding daily pollution levels in order to take preventive and precautionary measures at a community level.

The Health Advisory for air pollution is a form of public information on how clean or polluted the air is, what associated health effects might be of concern along with the measures that can be taken at individual level to tackle air pollution. It is helpful for individuals to limit the short-term exposure and protect their health by reducing activity levels during high pollution days.

The health advisory communicates three important aspects:
1) Assessment of the ambient air quality on a scale from Good to Severe.
2) Elucidates the level of health risk associated with the index reading.
3) Provides health Advice customised to each category for both the general and vulnerable population.

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Breathing clean air is not a luxury, but our right that comes under the Fundamental Right of healthy living. As part of our Help Delhi Breathe Campaign, our team conducted a community workshop with the residents of B-3 Block at Safdarjung Enclave. The workshop entailed to explain the details of the health advisory and its uses in the community. The objective of the workshop was to involve the masses as a part of the solution instead of them waiting for the authorities to take measures.

CEED is starting a pilot project in the block to gauge the effects issuing health advisory on air pollution at a community level and analyse the advantages of information dissemination of daily air quality. The residents appreciated our efforts and could connect to the philosophy of community engagement. The objective of this project is to:
1) Increase public awareness.
2) Empower the citizens to take measures at individual measures.
3) Understand the various aspects of community participation.

Anil Sehgal, General Secretary of RWA (Safdarjung Enclave B-3 block) added that an initiative like this can prove to be a turning point as it is capable of generating immense social pressure and awareness and further strengthen public demand to ensure clean and healthy air for the citizens.

Dimpy Suneja is a Clean Air Campaigner with CEED in Delhi.