Firecrackers: experts welcome Supreme Court ban

Published on Oct 10 2017 - - India - -

Doctors and environmentalists have welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision prohibiting the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR and expressed hope that it would ensure a relatively cleaner Diwali this year.

“We appreciate the Supreme Court’s decision on prohibition of firecrackers’ sale in Delhi-NCR. This may give some relief from the episodic air pollution levels in October. 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,’’ noted Greenpeace India.

Pollution affects all parts of the body, be it skin, eyes, nose, heart or lungs, said Dr. Sandeep Nayar, HOD, Respiratory Medicine, Allergy and Sleep Disorders, BLK Super Speciality Hospital.

“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,” said Dr. Nayar.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.”

According to experts, the air quality deteriorates drastically around Diwali as a thick layer of smog mixed with dangerous chemicals engulfs the city.

Long-term damage

“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,’’ said Dr. Puneet Khanna, senior consultant and head, Department of Interventional Pulmonology, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Aakash Healthcare – Super Speciality Hospital.

He added that 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,’’ Dr. Khanna added.

In 2016, Delhi’s air pollution levels stood at “severe” with the average PM2.5 level being recorded at over 700g/m³, 29 times above WHO standards.

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