Sherebanu Frosh from India

My daughter was 5 when a friend told us to buy air purifiers for our home (in Gurgaon, India). We didn’t know much about the air pollution, except that it was there, and pretty high. This friend, a journalist, had just had her second baby and both children suffered from asthma.

With the air purifier came a monitor, not terribly accurate, which told us the pollution levels in our home. This was the first time pollution was quantified for us. That year, in November, as crop burning season along with firecracker season coincided and all of North India was enveloped in an extensive opaque cloud for a few weeks. We watched the numbers with horror and clustered around the one air purifier, not knowing anything else about how pollution works, only that the foul smelling air exceeded all limits.

Now I know more about air pollution. Everyone is forced to know. We check the AQI and PM2.5 numbers multiple times a day. I know that children growing up in this pollution have black deposits of particulate matter in their lungs - black lungs like smokers when they grow up. Lifelong, irreversible damage that causes dozens of diseases that are well documented.
How can I allow this damage to be done to my children? Which mother would let her child get hurt to this extent? We don’t have a choice but to be environmentalists in India - fighting at individual level with reducing waste, cycling, buying less. Additionally, we are organising to fight at a system level as Warrior Moms.

So much of our mindspace goes in worry, stress and anger about air pollution, so much of our resources are lost to healthcare, lost productivity, disease. Fossil fuels are not worth it. Not by a long margin.

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