Panchkula, 13 October: Previous years trends do not induce much hope of a healthy festival of lights this year. As fireworks stock at homes of the people in Panchkula, Chandigarh, and Mohali, the objective of a green Diwali in the region is expected to go up in smoke on 19th October.
The available data of 2016 suggest that respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) levels in the region on Diwali night last year averagely recorded around 300 micrograms per cubic meter (mcg/m3), against the national permissible limit of 100 mcg/m3.
Another trend that is visible during this period is the rise in the number of respiratory patients visiting various hospitals after Diwali, especially in children. “It is well known that lighting fireworks release a toxic mixture of gasses which include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and even manganese and cadmium particles in the atmosphere. Every year around Diwali, we see people suffering from asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Children are most affected, as we expect a 40% rise in respiratory illness in kids,” said Dr. Jyoti Chawla, Senior Consultant, Paras Bliss Hospital.
Usually, it appears that pollution has cleared in a few days after Diwali, but due to the onset of winter and other environmental factors, the pollution caused around this time takes around 4 months to dissipate and therefore increases prolonged exposure to these gasses.
Explaining the reasons which make children more susceptible to respiratory diseases around Diwali, Dr. Jyoti Chawla, Senior Consultant, Paras Bliss Hospital says “The prolonged exposure to gasses particularly affects the children more compared to adults. Adults have better defenses against particulate matter and air pollutants than children. Children are more active than adults and therefore their intake of air into lungs is higher, as their lungs are not fully developed till late teens. Children’s ability to filter out or detoxify environmental agents and pollution is differential. Also, in kids airway epithelium, which is the first line defense against respiratory viruses and pollutants, is more permeable than in adults, making them more vulnerable to diseases.”
Rise in air pollution during Diwali is caused by human extravagance, and therefore it is our prime responsibility to take due preventive measures to protect yourself and the children around you from the toxic air post-Diwali celebrations. The following measures can help prevent respiratory diseases in children and adults alike.