New Delhi: Alarming levels of toxic heavy metals were detected following air quality tests in Delhi and Gurgaon in the last couple of months, according to a report. The report, titled ‘Death in Every Breath’, which was released by NGO Lung Care Foundation, examined the results of seven air quality tests taken in the two cities. The report further that PM2.5 levels — fine particulate matters in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres — were above statutory limits in all the seven tests.
“The PM2.5 levels ranged from 90.3 μg/m3 to 563.5 μg/m3 and were between 1.5 and 9.4 times higher than standards prescribed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC),” it said.
“Levels of lead in six of the seven tests exceed the US EPA 3-month average for exposure to lead (0.15 μg/m3) and in two tests exceeds the Indian NAAQS Annual and the WHO annual health-based guidelines value of 0.05 μg/m3.”
In five of the seven tests, the levels of manganese exceed the World Health Organisation annual health-based guidelines value of 0.15 μg/m3 and the US EPA Reference Concentration for exposure to manganese (0.05 μg/m3). The report adds that there are presently no standards in the country for manganese in ambient air.
“Levels of lead in six of the seven tests exceed the US EPA 3-month average for exposure to lead (0.15 μg/m3) and in two tests exceeds the Indian NAAQS Annual and the WHO annual health-based guidelines value of 0.05 μg/m3,” the report added.
In all the tests, nickel levels exceed the WHO guidelines value of 0.0025 μg/m3, which is based on the risk of cancer associated with long-term exposure to nickel.
“Manganese, lead and nickel are neurotoxins that damage the brain. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead. Exposures to even low levels of lead early in life have been linked to effects on IQ, learning, memory and behaviour. It is a matter of very serious concern that such high levels of these toxic metals are found in the air that our children breathe,” said Arvind Kumar of Lung Care Foundation.