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Monday, December 11, 2023

The Central Government Issues Health Guidelines for Schools amidst Rising Air Pollution, Students Advocate for Public Transport and Bicycles

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Expressing concern for the well-being of children in Delhi and surrounding areas due to worsening air quality, the Union Health Ministry released guidelines. The advisory directed schools, administrators, teachers, and parents to initiate measures that promote awareness and encourage students to adopt practices combating and adapting to air pollution. Despite this, parts of the national capital and its neighboring regions experienced light showers, offering some relief from the persistent smog. Consequently, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) fell below 400, with Delhi recording an AQI of 398 on Friday morning, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The Health Ministry urged schools to organize awareness events and incentivize students for implementing measures to combat air pollution. They highlighted key factors contributing to pollution levels such as location (urban areas), specific periods (colder seasons, Diwali, dust storms), and specific times (mornings and evenings when smog is dense). The advisory emphasized precautions during commuting, near school premises, and outdoor activities, especially for younger children with respiratory issues.

Additionally, the Ministry stressed the importance of electric vehicles and public transport for schools to reduce emissions. Encouraging bicycle use among older students, maintaining proper classroom ventilation, and taking precautions during poor air quality were among the highlighted measures. They recommended using whiteboards instead of chalk on blackboards, wet-mopping floors before students arrive, and restricting outdoor activities when air quality is poor.

Moreover, the Ministry emphasized the need for school staff and medical professionals to educate students about health issues related to air pollution and guide them on managing such concerns. Individuals with existing health conditions were advised to seek immediate medical assistance if they experience discomfort due to poor air quality.

Looking ahead, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasted a possibility of improved air quality in the upcoming days, predicting a cloudy sky with chances of light rain or thundershowers and clear skies with shallow or very little fog in the mornings. The Union Health Secretary emphasized the urgency of addressing air pollution as a significant health challenge, highlighting the need for city-level action plans to combat climate change and health issues.

The Delhi government, on its part, has announced efforts to address the escalating air pollution crisis, considering measures like ‘artificial rain’. Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan is currently in effect across the Delhi.

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