With toxic air fuelled by Diwali crackers and the onset of winter conditions engulfing the city over the past week, Gurgaon residents especially children, are reporting increasing incidence of respiratory disorders such as breathlessness, wheezing and cough.
Doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Palam Vihar say that while air quality is never too good in the city, thanks to intense vehicular pollution, Diwali festivities have worsened the situation to never-seen-before levels.
The main victims of this hazardous air have been children, who find it very difficult to cope with poor air quality, say doctors.
“We have seen a significant spike in people reporting with respiratory problems over this week. Common complaints include cough and breathlessness. The concentration of particulate matter has been consistently much higher than safe standards. This means city residents are practically inhaling poisonous air severely affecting their lung health. No wonder, our pulmonary department is overflowing with patients,” said Dr..Piyush Goel, MD, FNB. Consultant Pulmonology Department, Columbia Asia Hospitals, Palam Vihar
Invariably, the environmental conditions deteriorate every years after Diwali due to the bursting of crackers. However, this time the condition has been worse than every year.
With winter conditions also setting in, the dust and particulate material from vehicular pollution and smoke from crackers is hanging over the city sky, creating choking smog like conditions.
“While every individual is affected by bad air quality, the most badly affected are children. In children lungs are still in the process of development that makes them more vulnerable to toxic elements in the air. On a daily basis we are seeing several children as young as 4 years old who are sick because of inhaling toxic air. The use of nebulizers is very high in children of polluted cities like our’s today,” adds Dr.Piyush
The dangerous mix of pollutants in our air also increases risk of lung cancer, much like smoking cigarette toxins does. For children who grow up in highly polluted cities like Delhi, the impact of this dangerous air can be catastrophic on their undeveloped lungs and respiratory systems.
“Most people who see us today have lung conditions similar to those prevalent in chain smokers. The distinction between smokers and non-smokers is diminishing because everybody is inhaling air as toxic as several cigarettes a day,” added Dr. Goel.
For people residing in Gurgaon, it is essential to take some short and long term measures:
- Use nose masks while going to office and schools everyday, since early morning is the most polluted time of the day
- If possible, use air purifiers at home to ensure the time spent at home is safe from toxins
- Avoid morning walks since early morning air is not pure and fresh anymore. Shift this routine to afternoons when vehicular pollution is limited or workout at homes
- Take a pledge to stop using crackers from next year; you are only making your air unsafe for your children
- Start carpooling on a major scale to collectively help reduce vehicular pollution