Many of the cops had symptoms indicative of early signs of asthma like wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
Half of the Delhi Traffic personnel screened for lung capacity function in the city were found to have shortness of breath, abnormal lung function, allergy and high blood pressure. “Many also had symptoms indicative of early signs of asthma like wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, chronic coughing, troubled sleeping due to coughing or wheezing,” said Mr. Naresh Kapoor, Director, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, where the tests were conducted. In view of World Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, BLK Super Speciality Hospital had organised a health check-up camp for the highly vulnerable Delhi Traffic Police personnel to highlight the importance of regular screening as well as grave health risks faced by them.
Out of the 160 who attended the screening camp symptoms related to chest and lungs – shortness of breath, wheezing, allergy, cough etc were found in many (50 per cent).
Dr. Vikas Maurya, Consultant, Respiratory, Allergy and Sleep Disorder at BLK Super Speciality Hospital noted that some of those tested would require further investigation and treatment. Symptoms of allergy were found in 25 per cent personnel while 25 per cent had abnormal blood pressure.
Medical experts pointed out that the traffic officials are prone to lung diseases given the worsening air quality in Delhi caused by heavy vehicular traffic and industrial pollutant. Around one-fourth of Delhi’s alarming pollution is caused by vehicular emissions. According to the World Health Organisation, Delhi is the most polluted among 1,600 cities across the world.
“Traffic Police personnel are the most vulnerable given their prolonged exposure and are more prone to catching allergy and infection which can lead to asthma, and in extreme conditions it can cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD),’’ noted Dr. Maurya.
He added that traffic fumes could play a critical role in the induction of allergic conditions. The incidence of allergic diseases has increased over recent years. Several pollutants (NO2, O3, and PM components) are linked to asthma exacerbation and may contribute to asthma pathogenesis, he said. Dr. Muktesh Chander, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) noted that while the department does have regular health tests to ensure that their men stay in good mental and physical health “initiatives like these also help to sensitise our men to address to symptoms related to chest and lung problems”. “Other than this, we also encourage our men to undergo regular yoga and meditation sessions to keep them fit and happy. Masks are also provided to them but these are not fully effective against gases,” he noted.
Previously various studies conducted by Central Road Research Institute, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institutes have confirmed the high vulnerability of traffic policemen.