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Reporting on climate, air pollution, health

The Press Institute of India collaborated with Health Energy Initiative and Huma Lung Foundation to conduct a seminar for journalists on January 29, titled, Understanding & Reporting Climate, Air Pollution & Health. The aim was to help environmental and health journalists understand the scientific data around air monitoring, its health implications and the need for immediate action, with particular reference to Chennai.

Dr Arvind Kumar, chairman, Centre for Chest Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, Dr Nandini Kumar, TERI University, Dr S. Shankar, Sri Ramachandra University, and Ronak Sutaria, scientist, Urban Science, Mumbai, addressed the well-attended event.

The key takeaway from Dr Arvind Kumar’s talk was that no one is a non-smoker in India, not even a new-born child, because the air quality is so bad that the mere act of breathing for a day equals smoking several cigarettes. Dr Nandini Kumar stressed that the effects of pollution are all-pervasive, and there is no longer any clean place on earth.

Ronak Sutaria talked of the science and data behind pollution, and explained the features of Atmos, an affordable PM 2.5 monitor indigenously developed by his team. Coordinator of the Community Environmental Monitoring Programme in India, Shweta Narayan, and her team demonstrated low-cost devices to monitor and collect air samples.

Writer-activist Nityanand Jayaraman translated the proceedings in Tamil for the benefit of journalists from the Tamil press.

Sashi Nair, director and editor, Press institute of India, welcomed the gathering.