- Doctors and environmentalists have welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision prohibiting the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR, and expressed the hope that it would ensure a relatively cleaner Diwali this year.
- This may give some relief from the episodic air pollution levels.
- Pollution affects all parts of the body, be it skin, eyes, nose, heart or lungs.
- Underlying diseases such as asthma also get aggravated and there is no doubt that the number and severity of diseases have increased manifold in the city.
Open field burning
- On the factors responsible for deteriorating air quality in the National Capital, Dr. S. P. Byotra, chairman and head, Department of Internal Medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: “Of all the other factors, open field burning is responsible for 12% to 25% of particulate pollution in Delhi.
- Fall in wind speed is making the situation worse.
- We are witnessing almost 40% to 50% increase in OPD patients with respiratory problems.
- Wearing pollution mask, controlling indoor air quality and using air purifiers at home may give some relief to such patients.
Smog engulfs city
- According to experts, the air quality deteriorates drastically around Diwali as a thick layer of smog, mixed with dangerous chemicals, engulfs the city.
- The concentrations of ultra-fine PM2.5 reach as high as 1,000 ug/m3, nearly 17 times the safe limit of 60 ug/m3. The levels are usually highest in the early mornings and late evenings.
- Morning joggers, schoolchildren, and elderly are more vulnerable to such highly toxic smog.
- Those suffering from chronic pulmonary diseases or having weak immunity can develop serious short term and long term lung damage.
- Breathlessness, coughing fit, chest tightness, asthma, pulmonary disease, rhinitis, and pneumonia are some of the common ill-effects of high levels of air pollution around Diwali.
- Prolonged exposure to concentrated metal particles is associated in the long term with lung cancer, pneumoconiosis, and emphysema.
- Such patients should avoid moving outdoors during early morning and late evening and should wear a quality face mask when they move out during daytime.
- However, the pollution levels in North India are multiple times higher than the national standards throughout the winter months, hence, we also need to look at a stricter, comprehensive and time-bound action plan to address all sources of air pollution across the country.