New Delhi [India], Oct 15 : As air pollution remains a serious health hazard, city-based pulmonologists have started urging the people to avoid firecrackers this Diwali and take preventive measures to deal with the menace of air pollution.
Doctors are of the view that people should refrain from going out for morning walk because at that time particulate matter in the air remains at the highest level.
"Prevention is always better than cure. We have already started seeing patients with exacerbated respiratory complications. Stubble burning, diesel vehicles, dust produced from construction sites, etc., are major culprits of air pollution," Prof (Dr) GC Khiln, Chairman, Pulmonary Department, PSRI Hospital, told .
"Elderly patients, children, pregnant mothers and those who suffer from pre-existing diseases are more vulnerable to fall prey to infection. They should cover their mouth with a KN-95 mask and do not step outside in the morning," added Prof Khiln.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Respiratory Department, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said: "This is just the start of air pollution ... worse is yet to come as poor air quality will continue to remain for at least two-three months. Dust is seen all over on the roads. It has to be effectively controlled. Patients with regular breathing problems are visiting us ... but in somedays ... more asthmatic patients will land in the emergency unit."
Talking about 'green crackers' which have been launched by the Central government, Dr Kumar said: "It will not have much positive effect as ultimately green crackers will also produce emission. So, we appeal to the people not to burn crackers of any kind at all."
Dr Vikash Maurya, Head, Respiratory Department at Fortis Hospital, said: "The bottom line is that we have to be cautious now. The rising air pollution level is going to hamper our lives. Last year, ICMR reported that one in eight deaths in India was attributable to air pollution in India in 2017, making it a leading risk factor for death in India."
Last week, air quality in Delhi turned "very poor" with the overall Average Air Quality Index (AQI) touching 301 micrograms per cubic (ugm-3). Taking this into consideration, the Delhi government has launched the Graded Action Rapid Programme (GRAP) from today onwards to tackle the problem of air pollution in the national capital.
According to the ICMR study, about four lakh deaths in India in 2017 were due to air pollution, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution. The highest PM2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Haryana.
When the air quality turns "very poor", the GRAP measures include a ban on diesel gen-sets and entry of trucks into the capital, increase in bus and metro services, and a hike in parking fees.
When it turns "severe", GRAP recommends closure of brick kilns, stone crushers, and hot mix plants, and prescribes sprinkling of water, frequent mechsed cleng of roads and maximizing power generation from natural gas.
The measures to be followed in the "emergency" situation include a ban on civil construction and the introduction of the odd-even car rationing scheme.
( With inputs from ANI )