Toxic pollution may ruin festivities

The new year has barely started, but the bad news has already started trickling in. The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorol ogy (IITM) has predicted that a fall in temperature and rise in humidity will combine to worsen air quality over the next three days. “The overall air quality of Pune for the first day of 2016 will be moderate,“ said Dr Gufran Beig, project director for System of Air Quality and Weather Forecast and Research. “Particulate matter 2.5 will be at 86 ugm3 (threshold limit for this is 60 ugm3). However, this will soon worsen and be in the range of 8593 ugm3 (anything beyond 90 ug m3 is considered poor quality).“

PM 2.5 refers to inhalable particles, which are small enough to penetrate the thoracic region of the respiratory system. They are usually a result of incompatible combustion, especially of fossil fuels. Inhaling this may result in arange of respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity, like aggravation of asthma and other respiratory symptoms.

“Especially in areas between Shivajinagar and Mhasoba Gate, the particulate matter level will be 135 ug m3, which is in the very poor range. A combination of cooler temperatures and stagnant wind with high density traffic moving at slow pace is very bad news for the city. Other areas with poor air quality are Katraj and Hadapsar, where emissions from suspended dust and traffic are dominant,“ said Neha Parkhi, programme officer, environmental information system, IITM. She added that the PimpriChinchwad residents will be luckier.“Areas like Bhosari and Nigdi, especially, will enjoy clean air.“ The IITM health advisory has asked people at Shivajinagar, Katraj and Hadapsar to refrain from prolonged exposure to air pollution. Es pecially people with heart or lung diseases, the elderly and small children should be careful. Even Punekars without a medical history may feel varying levels of discomfort, the advisory said.

Doctors, too, have advised caution.“In the last two-three days, we have seen many patients with viral bronchitis and other respiratory symptoms.The out-patient department is generally quite relaxed at this time of the year, but we have seen a 20-30 per cent increase this time. People may even consider taking flu shots as they give some amount of protection,“ said Dr Mahavir Modi, pulmonologist with Ruby Hall Clinic.

Dr Nitin Abhyankar, chest physician at Poona Hospital, said, “With the predictions showing higher levels of pollutants, cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may increase. People with COPD have weaker lungs and they are most vulnerable. People should wear masks while going out, avoid crowded places and shouldn’t go out before 6 am or after 5 pm.“
Source : Pune Mirror

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