New Delhi: What is the concern with Delhi‘s air and deteriorating quality? Impact on children, elderly to people with respiratory diseases aside, the air quality can cause lasting damage to even a healthy person. This is something that health experts have reiterated time and again and even the India Medical Association (IMA) had warned when calling for Delhi’s pollution to be declared a health emergency.
NDTV speaks to two of India’s foremost doctors from Fortis Escorts and here are the top findings:
Both government and private hospitals have seen a rise in the number of patients by 10-15%. All the patients that come in the hospital complain of respiratory problems, itching in eyes, gritty nose. People who never faced any such disease are also being admitted under emergency conditions.
Talking about every day, at least 10-15 patients are getting admitted directly because of the smog rather than the cold or rather than the usual problem. Chest infections, we know it gets worse in winters, but people who never had long standing lung problems are now getting admitted with infections they have never actually faced before, says Dr. Ashok Seth, Cardiologist, Fortis Escort.
It is said that children have weak immune system and therefore they are more vulnerable to diseases, but current pollution levels in Delhi is affecting adults also.
Substantial numbers of elderly population are the ones who are addicted to walks and these are the patients who despite taking adequate and more precautions go for a morning walk and get a chill. Typically it starts from sneezing, cough, bad eyes, gritty nose and then they will come up with shortness of breath. Usually these are the ones who have never had a past history of asthma or bronchitis. These are the people who have gone into that state of action that if they don’t walk, they feel bad about it and they insist on walking, says Dr. Sameer Shrivastava, Cardiologist, Fortis Escort.
Addiction to walking should please the doctors but given the sad state of pollution walking has become injurious to health.
“I feel sad for the kids because as a kid there was no evening when I didn’t play outside. Here these people are forced to sit inside and play video games”, says Dr. Sameer
Speaking to NDTV, Dr. Ashok shares his experience and says,
I was sitting in the OPD yesterday, every time my habit would be to say “and you must go for walk” and yesterday I was trying to curb it. I would start by saying, you must go for walk and then I would say, sorry, don’t go for walks.
While health experts have declared health emergency and suggest staying indoors, Delhi Half Marathon remains uncertain. Terming Delhi’s air as poor and unsafe, Indian Medical Association (IMA) has even urged High Court to postpone the marathon.
Echoing and endorsing the views of IMA, Dr, Ashok says,
To run in this sort of weather, even just walking outside is polluted. We are talking about an emergency at the moment. The sort of Air Quality Index (AQI) is unheard in any place in the world. This is not right for people to even breathe this sort of air. Running in this sort of weather is an absolute no-no.
Health experts say that breathing Delhi’s air for a day is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes and because of this people’s lives are getting shortened. Recent levels of pollution not only cause short term health effects but long term as well. Also, if these air pollution levels persist then in the future, people who have never smoked in their lives would end up being potential lung cancer patients.
Currently, entire Delhi is a smoker and not only smokers, but heavy smokers. My guess is, not only lung cancer, but several other cancers are attributed. These are the things which are going to see a substantial rise, but not now because these will have over a period of time impact, says Dr. Sameer.