If you woke up to a low-visibility morning post-Diwali, witnessing your air-sensitive toddler or asthmatic grandparent coughing up through the night, a decision to move to places with cleaner air may even have crossed your mind.Triggers like paddy burning in the neighbouring state to massive vehicular traffic or increasing pollen in the air as winter settles in are all troubling scenarios, especially for children, made worse by non-stop bursting of firecrackers on Diwali night, despite all the warnings of their deleterious effect on the environment and health. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’“Recently, a child was brought to me with asthma exacerbation despite taking regular medication. We had to step up his medication and even administer steroids to control the symptoms. This child is not an isolated case as rise in pollution levels is troubling most of our patients,” said Dr Sandeep Nayar, head (department of respiratory medicine) at BLK Super Specialty Hospital.According to Delhi Pollution Control Committee, the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM), which directly affects breathing, was recorded at 2,308 microgram per cubic meter (mpcm) at 11 p.m. on Diwali night while the prescribed standard is 100 mpcm. PM2.5 (particulate matter above 2.5 microns), for which the prescribed standard is 60 mpcm, also touched an alarming high at 619 mpcm at midnight last night. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe US Embassy’s air quality index touched 277 microns per cubic meter on Thursday morning in diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri, a very unhealthy level, according to the embassy which monitors air quality in the area on a regular basis.The System of Air quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), jointly run by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and India Meteorological Department, Delhi University area was the most polluted spot in the city with PM 2.5 touching an average of 430. Dr Bobby Bhalotra, leading pulmonologist from Sir Gangaram Hospital, says the situation was worrisome for Delhiites. “Yesterday (Wednesday), the pollution levels were really bad. I advise air-sensitive kids and the elderly to stay indoors with air purifiers at work. Try not to go out in early morning and evening when the pollutions levels are really high,” said Dr Bhalotra. When Gardiner Harris, the South Asia correspondent for The New York Times, decided to leave Delhi this year because his eight-year-old son’s lung capacity went down to 50 per cent owing to the bad air quality, the world took notice. His article titled “Holding Your Breath In India” brought policymakers – both at the state and the central level – to the discussion forums but no visible change is seen on the ground yet. A study conducted by Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) in Delhi recently showed that nearly half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have irreversible lung damage from the polluted air.Scientists tracked 11,000 schoolchildren from 36 schools in Delhi for three years. They found that key indicators of respiratory health from lung function to palpitation and vision in Delhi children — between four and 17 years of age — were worse off than their counterparts elsewhere.