Doctors say Delhi's air pollution could have long term effects on children

Doctors say Delhi

Delhi's air pollution is causing a spike in coughs and throat infections, and there could be long-term health consequehealth nces, especially for children.

When a toxic smog darkened the skies over the Indian capital last weekend and air pollution peaked to its highest levels this year, Nabeela Moinuddin and Fareeda, living on opposite sides of the economic divide, were panic-stricken for their families.

Moinuddin corralled her husband, their two children and two housekeepers into a bedroom of their elegant New Delhi apartment in Nizamuddin East, one of the capital's most upmarket localities, and switched on two indoor air purifiers at full power.

In the nearby Nizamuddin Basti, a maze of narrow lanes around a Muslim shrine, Fareeda, who uses one name, locked her children in their one-room house but was powerless to do anything about the pollution streaming in from a large, shutter-less window.

Divided by income and their ability to fight the toxic air but united in their suffering from it, the 36-year-old mothers are among more than 20 million people trapped and helpless in the world's most polluted capital city.

Both are uncertain about exactly what to do next and fearful of their children's health as Delhi's air quality index (AQI), which measures levels of tiny particulate matter, has remained in the "hazardous" category for most of this week.

Doctors have said coughs and throat infections have spiked because of the pollution and there could be long-term health consequences, especially for children.

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