Many people are flying into foreign shores to escape Diwali pollution, which hits humans and birds alike.
Sudha Nair (30), a chartered accountant staying in Andheri, has left the city to spend a week with her family in London. An asthmatic, Sudha’s visit abroad is a way of escaping the rising pollution level in the city during Diwali.
Doctors confirm that many like Sudha prefer to take a Diwali break in foreign countries to escape the air and noise pollution in the city. The city sees a three-fold rise in respiratory cases during Diwali.
Dr Jalil Parker, chest physician at Lilavati hospital, said, “Many of my asthma patients go abroad to avoid air pollution during Diwali due to bursting of firecrackers. The ones who can’t afford to go abroad prefer a village stay where there is lesser pollution and more fresh air.”
Experts say asthma patients, who can’t leave the city, must remain well-prepared.
“Apart from staying away from the smoke emitted from firecrackers, asthma patients must remain well-prepared with inhalers and adhere to their prescribed medicines strictly. Due to air pollution people develop symptoms like coughing, wheezing and breathlessness,” said Dr Jaising Phadtare, professor of pulmonary diseases, Grant Medical College.
Doctors advise parents to be more careful in buying firecrackers for their children. “More and more children are getting asthma. Like other metro cities in the world, this problem is acute in Mumbai as well. There needs to be awareness among parents when they are buying firecrackers for their children,” Dr Mukesh Sanklecha, consulting paediatrician pulmonologist at Bombay hospital, said.
Gaseous air pollutants emitted from firecrackers aggravate the risk of an attack in asthmatics.
Crackers are one of the provoking factors for childhood bronchial asthma, particularly among children between 6 and 12 years old. It has now been established that 26% people without any history of respiratory ailments develop symptoms of coughing, wheezing and breathlessness, especially during Diwali.
The reason is that crackers contain 75% potassium nitrate, 15% carbon and 10% sulphur and when they are burnt, harmful gases such as sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, manganese and even cadmium are released, which irritate the delicate airways of lungs and worsen the condition of people with pulmonary diseases.
Dr Vijay Yewale, convenor of immunisation committee, said, “With temperatures fluctuating and high pollution levels, we are getting repetitive cases of respiratory ailments. Almost 20-25% patients who have been treated are back with the same symptoms.”
Children, pregnant women, senior citizens and diabetics are more vulnerable to airborne diseases. It has been reported that long-term exposure to air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter can cause reduced lung growth in children and the effects are more pronounced in areas where air pollution is higher.