Diwali Aftermath: City Chokes with Pollution while Hospitals Report Spike in Respiratory Cases
Ghaziabad, 26th October 2017: Previous years trends did not inspire much hope of a healthy festival of lights this year as well. As fireworks lighted the city on Diwali night, the objective of a green Diwali in the region went up in smoke. With toxic air fuelled by Diwali crackers and the onset of winter conditions engulfing the city over the past week, Ghaziabad residents, especially children and old people, are reporting increasing incidence of respiratory disorders such as breathlessness, wheezing and cough.
Doctors at ColumbiaAsia Hospitals, say thatwhile air quality is never too good in the city, thanks to intense vehicularpollution, Diwali festivities have worsened the situation with each passingyear. Children and old people are majorly impacted as they find it verydifficult to cope with poor air quality, say doctors. “We have seen asignificant spike in people reporting with respiratory problems over this week.Common complaints include cough and breathlessness. It is well known thatlighting fireworks releases a toxic mixture of gasses which include carbonmonoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and even manganese and cadmiumparticles in the atmosphere. This means city residents are practically inhalingpoisonous air, which is severely affecting their lung health. No surprise, ourpulmonary department is overflowing with patients,” said Dr. Gyan Bharati, Pulmonologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad.
Invariably,combustion of fireworks deteriorates environmental conditions every year afterDiwali due to the bursting of crackers. Usually it appears that pollution hascleared in a few days after Diwali, but due to onset of winter and otherenvironmental factors, the pollution caused around this time takes around 4months to dissipate and therefore increases prolonged exposure to these gasses.
“While everyindividual is affected by bad air quality, the most badly affected arechildren. Children are more active than adults and therefore their intake ofair in to lungs is higher, and their lungs are also not fully developed tilllate teens. Children’s ability to filter out or detoxify environmental agentsand pollution is different. Also, in kids airway epithelium is more permeablethan in adults, which makes them more vulnerable to diseases. The airwayepithelium is the first defense against respiratory viruses and pollutants. Ona daily basis we are seeing several children as young as 4 years old who are sickbecause of inhaling toxic air. The use of nebulizers is very high in childrenof polluted cities like ours today,” adds Dr. Sanjay Sharma, Consultant Paediatrician, Columbia AsiaHospital, Ghaziabad.
With winterconditions also setting in, the dust and particulate material from vehicularpollution and smoke from crackers is hanging over the city sky, creatingchoking smog like conditions. The dangerous mix of pollutants in our airalso increases risk of lung cancer, much like smoking cigarettetoxins does. For children who grow up in highly polluted citieslike Delhi, the impact of this dangerous air can be catastrophic on theirundeveloped lungs and respiratory systems. “Most people who see us todayhave lung conditions similar to those prevalent in chain smokers. Thedistinction between smokers and non-smokers is diminishing because everybody isinhaling air as toxic as several cigarettes a day,” added Dr. Gyan Bharati, Pulmonologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad.
For people residing in the city and speciallyfor their children, it is essential to take some short and long term measures:
· Adultsshould note the daily air quality index of the city for a week after Diwali,and if pollution levels tend to exceed over 200 mcg/m3, childrenshould not be sent outdoors.
· Childrenshould not be allowed to venture outside for playing and other activities. Makeyour kids wear quality air masks whenever they step outside at least for a weekpost Diwali.
· Itis important that indoor air is kept clean and pollution free. Lightingfirecrackers in the balconies or porch should be avoided. Keep windows anddoors closed on Diwali night for preventing toxic gasses from entering inside.
· Encouragekids to drink a lot of water during this period. Water helps flushing outtoxins from the system.
· Increase the intake of anti-oxidants rich diet whichincludes fruits and vegetables. They help in boosting vitamins in the body andits immune system.