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Air pollution caused devastating impacts on children’s health in urban area of Sri Lanka
Indoor and outdoor air pollution have become a public health challenge in Sri Lanka, majorly with the introduction of open economic policy in 1978. The emissions from motor vehicles (55%), industries (25%) and domestic sources (20%) collectively contributed to air pollution (Ministry of Environment, 2012). Sri Lanka produced over 90% of power demand from hydroelectricity two decades before and it was gradually reduced to 40-50% approx. as of now, due to the usage of thermal and coal power plants to produce electricity. Over 50% of the vehicles, 70% of industries and many thermal power plants are located in the urban area of Sri Lanka (Ileperuma, 2019). Open dumping and burning of solid waste in the urban areas by both households and local authorities-at the waste dumpsites, and continue decomposition process of waste emit dust particles, methane, toxic and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (Ruzaik, 2015). The culmination of all the above factors subsidized for air pollution and it subsequently impacted for health of the general public, including children of the nation. The children are highly exposed to polluted air in the home and school environment. However, the policymakers does not provide more priority; although it is a dangerous and silent hazard, which is positively correlated with communicable and non-communicable diseases. Hence, this analytical study is carried out with the objective of identifying causes and potential health impacts and to provide possible remedial measures to mitigate and manage this issue at a minimum risk rate. Predominantly, the data and information from published and unpublished secondary sources were used. MS-Office was used to analyze the data, following both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Analysis reveals that World Health Organization(WHO) estimated the number of deaths attributed by air pollution in Sri Lanka is approx.. 5,200 (Nandasena, et al. 2012) and 60% of the children visit to the Lady Ridgeway-Children hospital for medical treatments on respiratory diseases (Ruzaik, 2015). Dharshana and Coowanitong,(2008) showed that PM10 has the strongest association to bronchitis, emphysema and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases among children with a correlation coefficient of 0.717 at 99% confidence. Approximately 20% of asthma patients at the Lady Ridgeway children's hospital could be due to exposure to high PM10 levels. This study majorly recommends to promote habits of wearing facemasks in outdoor, especially for children and suggested the Government of Sri Lanka to prepare a national level policy strategy to provide “Clean Air to all in 2030”.