The state’s Environment Department will be conducting a series of medical examinations of children in Mumbai, Pune and Chandrapur as well as setting up monitoring stations in all three cities to record ambient air pollution.

Children have been chosen as the subject of the study because the authorities feel that the respiratory health of adults is more likely to have been damaged by factors other than poor air quality, such as smoking or exposure to irritants or toxins in the workplace.

The idea is to continue to invite the children to take part in regular check ups as they continue through life, to build up a long-term picture of the cities’ pollution levels and how that corresponds to the health of residents.

Traffic is the biggest contributor to polluting gases and particulates in Mumbai and Pune while industrialised Chandrapur suffers from poor air quality due to an abundance of coal-fired power stations, cement factories and coal mines.

The study will be the first of its kind in India.

Sharvaree Gokhale, Principal Secretary for the Environment, told the Indian press: “The selection of children as subjects for the survey allows us to study them for longer periods.

“Moreover, in case of children, it is also easy to assess whether the respiratory diseases like asthma have been caused by pollution, unlike adults who may have contracted them due to other factors like smoking.”

“We will try to get details like whether the respiratory diseases affecting children are hereditary, whether the problems have been aggravated by pollution, residential area, level of affluence and whether the child’s parents grew up in the city.”

Sam Bond

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