Nearly 200 people die annually from diseases related to air pollution and according to health authorities the trend is on the increase because most of the urban areas are highly polluted.
The Island learns that children, especially those under five years and adults over 60 are the most vulnerable groups.
Colombo Municipal Council Deputy Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni told The Island that adult mortality, infant mortality, low birth weight, permanent reduction in lung functioning, chronic respiratory asthma and lung cancer are among the health hazards due to exposure to air pollution.
Speaking about mortality trends due to air pollution, he said by 1995 and 1996 air pollution attributed diseases such as heart diseases were the main cause of deaths.
More than five million are school children and unfortunately a large number of schools are situated in vulnerable urban areas. The most polluted area due to vehicle emission is Kandy. Pollution levels are also high in Kurunegala, Badulla, Galle and Nuwara Eliya.
Department of Motor Traffic Commissioner Bandula Wijeratne told The Island that regulations would be introduced soon making emission test certification compulsory for annual revenue licences.
He said: "The implementation of emission testing would certainly cut down the number of vehicles that are not suitable for plying on roads, spewing dangerous gases like sulphur dioxide."
The number of motor vehicles is ever increasing and is estimated to reach 2.4 million by end of this year. The main objective of the vehicle emission programme that would be implemented shortly is to give the future generation clean breathing air.