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Health Risks Due To High Pollution Levels Post Diwali

Diwali is a beautiful festival that brings joy and happiness into our lives.


Diwali is a beautiful festival that brings joy and happiness into our lives. Each year we look forward to celebrating this festival with friends and family with the  joy of giving. But this festival season is also accompanied with  high level of pollution, dust, and smog which is particularly difficult for patients, young children, and the elderly people. Let us take a closer look at the health risks posed by pollution and the tips to keep ourselves safe around the festive season.                                                     

Causes for High Pollution Post Diwali

Diwali is a festival of lights. Unfortunately, it has become more about loud crackers, toxic smoke, spewing fireworks, and incessant burning of fuel. Last year, the air quality in the national capital, Delhi, reached an emergency level of about 980 right after midnight. This was about 2000 times the safe limit (PM 2.5 safe levels are pegged at 50). Despite the Supreme Court's ban on bursting firecrackers after 10 pm, many people in the city were found adding to the toxic fine particulates in the air by lighting fireworks. Add to this, the smog caused by burning of wood fuel to keep the cold at bay and the fires set on agricultural lands during the winter season; air pollution in the capital reaches lethal levels. This is true in many north Indian cities as well. In the rest of the country too, vehicular pollution, exhaust fumes from diesel generators, and smoke from firecrackers cause untold damage.

Health risks caused by high pollution  

  • The worst affected during the post Diwali weeks are those who suffer from respiratory ailments like asthma, bronchitis and COPD. High levels of pollution and smog may well trigger an asthma attack among patients and also cause acute respiratory distress among children with underdeveloped lungs.
  • Eye irritation is often a result of  high concentration of toxic nitrogen oxides in the smog. Itchy, red, watery eyes, eye infections, and decrease in tear production can occur in such a scenario. Children, those with sensitive eyes, and senior citizens are among the worst affected. 
  • One of the common side effects of short-term exposure to very high levels of smog and pollution (over the Diwali festive days) is chest burning, irritation, cough, and wheezing. This could happen to just anyone. Those who spend time outdoors breathing in the firecracker smoke are particularly vulnerable. This irritation may subside over time but the effects of the toxic air may continue to harm the lungs.
  • The sensitive linings of the nose and throat are also susceptible to irritation during the post Diwali days. Burning sensation, itchiness, and coughing are experienced at this time. While everybody is at risk, the elderly and children are particularly vulnerable.  

 

Tips to stay safe

  • Do not burst or encourage bursting of firecrackers. The spirit of Diwali is about the light in our lives. This includes the health and joy of our dear ones. It is best to avoid practices that put us at risk.                  
  • Avoid burning wood or coal at fireplaces or in outdoor fire pits. Use of smokeless electric fires is the best alternatives to these.    
  • Use indoor air purifiers particularly if you have elders, children, and pets at home.
  • Follow the regulations and guidelines put in place by the government to reduce air pollution.