According to the World Health Organization, firecrackers cause more deaths than traffic accidents. Firecrackers have been banned in many countries because they cause serious injuries and even death. In India still firecrackers are using widely. Smoke from firecrackers can damage the respiratory system. It also causes lung cancer.
Smoke from Firecrackers
With many cases of burns and irritation reported every year during Diwali, health experts cautioned people to avoid firecrackers as their smoke can cause damage to the respiratory tract, especially among children suffering from asthma.
Health experts said people having a healthy respiratory system can suffer from lung-related problems after getting exposed to the smoke of crackers, which mostly includes aluminium powder, sulphur and barium nitrate.
During Diwali Smoke from Firecrackers can Damage Respiratory System
“During Diwali, children prefer crackers prepared from aluminium powder, sulphur and barium nitrate. When they are burnt, they release pollutants like sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, manganese and even cadmium, which damage the respiratory tract,” a senior homoeopathy physician at the city-based Clinic.
Speaking about asthma patients, “For asthma patients who already have hyperactive airways, these pollutants further irritate the bronchial mucosa and swell up the inner linings of the respiratory tract.”
A certain particulate matter in the air, called PM10 (particulate matter with a mass median aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 microns) is potentially very damaging. “These particles are so small that when inhaled, they can penetrate deep inside the lungs, and deposit themselves in the smaller airways and lung parenchyma.”
“All these cause spasms in the patients, triggering asthma attacks. Sometimes, when the air becomes thick with smoke, patients cannot breathe on their own and may even have to be hospitalised.”
According to doctors, it is estimated that 15-20 patients report to hospitals suffering spasms of asthma in Diwali as compared to four-five patients on other days. Children between six to 12 years of age are more susceptible to asthma attack during Diwali.
Suggesting some preventive measures, Sumeet Khanna, Online healthcare providers, advising: “The better the asthma patients can do while getting exposed to Diwali crackers is to carry inhalers.”
“One should also avoid a walk on Diwali’s following morning, as the pollutant level would have increased tremendously. If choking sensation or breathlessness persists, rush to a nearby hospital for treatment.”
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Fumes from Burning Crackers can Trigger Severe Respiratory Conditions
While it is an auspicious and joyous festival that brings families and friends together over light, love, gifts, pictures, and sweets, it is also a festival that brings with it the specificity of burning crackers to mark the festivities. From kids to elders, everyone is nowadays well informed about the harmful effects of burning crackers that come with Diwali. Be it environmental or personal health-related concerns, crackers do way more harm than they do well.
Among many other health risks, the bursting of firecrackers prominently increases air pollution and the chances of respiratory problems. While bursting crackers have become an integral part of this festival of lights, so has the air and noise pollution in recent years and the doubled-up respiratory issues.
The fumes and particulate matter (PM) that are released from the burning of crackers triggers increase cough, sputum, throat irritation, breathlessness and also worse pre-existing asthma, COPD, increases the risk of respiratory infection etc. Elderly and children with Asthma and bronchitis are very vulnerable with 30–40% increase in their chest symptoms during Diwali needing emergency room visits. The fumes & particulate matter also end up staying in the atmosphere for a very long time and enhance the risk of respiratory illness.
Many crackers are composed of chemical components Viz. base used for burning such as charcoal, Sulphur & potassium nitrates, Chlorate and perchlorate, Magnesium, Nitrogen dioxide, Aluminum, lead, carbon monoxide and various metals salts added to give a variety of colours. These chemicals produce a lot of reactive oxygen species, which induces oxidative stress in the lungs, resulting in powerful cellular and inflammatory response. These are harmful to the respiratory systems and lead to severe short term and long-term health concerns. Chemical substances can accumulate and damage the functioning of the body if breathed in.
The already deteriorated air quality and the rising air pollution take a deeper plunge during Diwali, further aggravating the existing health concerns. Air pollution is well known to be a major danger for respiratory problems. High levels of PM less than 2.5um that stay suspended in the air due to air pollution can advance deep into the lungs and affecting the respiratory system. These particles also impair the immune system, which leads to recurrent infections that leads asthma. This dysfunctioning also damages the lungs, which also leads to breathing problems and asthma.
Air pollutants affect health in over one way. From simple to serious health concerns, from biochemical and physiological to breathing difficulties, cough and aggravation of respiratory as well as cardiac disorders. Air quality affects the health of our lungs and the entire respiratory system in particular.
There is a dire need to execute serious measures that gradually ease the problem of air pollution during Diwali and make sure that the citizens have access to relatively cleaner air to breathe and can avoid respiratory problems that they are prone to because of the extreme pollution triggered by the burning of crackers during Diwali. Citizens themselves need to take steps on individual levels and avoid crackers for the larger good said, Consultant Pulmonology.
Tips to Protecting your Respiratory System and Keep your Lungs Healthy
While it is not possible to have a zero pollution Diwali, but if every person attempts to prevent or reverse pollution and the related health concerns, then the situation might improve a little. Some tips that one can keep in mind to avoid letting your the respiratory system get affected include:
- If possible, avoid as much contact with the polluted air as possible and stay away from crackers. Stay indoors. Keep the doors and windows around you closed. This is especially necessary for pregnant women, newborns, kids, as well as the elderly, and those with chronic conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, etc.
For those who have pre-existing health issues like asthma or bronchitis must make sure that they are regularly taking their medicines, especially during the Diwali period, to let the symptoms stay under control and to avoid sudden attacks. Those who have asthma must also keep their inhales along at all times. If possible, go out on a brief vacation to avoiding the pollution of Diwali.
- In case of an increase in any signs of breathlessness shooting up, reach out for medical aid at the earliest possible.
- When absolutely necessary to step out, wear masks to prevent particles from entering directly and causing irritation of the throat or in breathing. Prefer N-100 rated face masks, or confirm about them beforehand with your doctors.
- Try not to exercise outdoors during this period as the air has particles suspended for sometimes in the air and heavy breathing after a workout can make a way for these particles to get in.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and nutritious diet to strengthen your immune system. Do not consume too much of oily food items as an excess of oil can upset digestion and increase chances of suffocation.
- Stay hydrated. Consume a lot of water constant.
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