Child health expert warns :
Colombo’s air pollution, cause
of wheezing in children
Prof. Manouri Senanayake
Air pollution in Colombo city has become so bad that it is triggering or
aggravating wheezing in children, top child health expert Professor Manouri
Senanayake warned yesterday. Delivering the 26th Susan George Pulimoood Oration
at Visakha Vidyalaya on Friday evening, Professor Senanayake, Senior Professor
in Paediatrics at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, pointed out
that research data had linked city traffic pollutants and wheezing episodes.
Professor Senanayake, currently on her sabbatical as a consultant paediatrician
in the UK, spoke on the topic ‘Safeguarding Children and Childhood from Today’s
Environmental Hazards’, highlighting her own research and also discussing
lessons to be learnt from experiences of First World countries.
Raising the problem of with air pollution and the increase of wheezing in
childhood in the country, she presented research data that established a link
between traffic pollutants and wheezy episodes.
According to Prof. Senanayake, the air in Colombo has reached a level where it
is either triggering or aggravating wheezing in children. Furthermore, indoor
air is more polluted than outdoor air, she said. In addition to discussing
increasing urban noise levels and its effects on young children, she also warned
that research had found that spices, as they are packaged today, were a
potential source of lead poisoning. Her Oration also touched on the effects of
psycho-social factors and mental well-being among children and young persons.
She emphasized the importance of providing security and stability especially in
the first three years of life, when parents were the primary environment of a
She also discussed the impact of excessive screen time and over-use of digital
technology on child development. The Oration is annually delivered as a tribute
to Visakha Visdyalaya’s one-time Principal, Mrs. Pulimood . This event was
organized by the Susan George Pulimood Educational Trust, chaired by Mrs.
Sandamalee Avuruppola, the School’s Principal.