Masks are out again, but this time to fight foul air

  • | Wednesday | 8th November, 2023

GURGAON: Parimal Bardhan (75) could smell the smoke in the air as soon as he stepped out of his flight at the Delhi airport two days ago. He was well prepared for this. He put on his N95 mask, took a cab home and switched on his air purifier. The DLF 1 resident is under medication for a breathing ailment.This is not a seasonal feature anymore. The AQI worsens in the winter months, but also remains in the poor to very poor range throughout the year.There are some windows of relief, but no big changes. The air purifier is running all the time in my house. I am facing breathing difficulties even indoors and my eyes start burning if I step out, Bardhan said.The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) isnt the solution as the government needs to deal with the cause of the pollution, not its symptoms, he said. Local sources like garbage burning and road dust need to be addressed, the senior citizen added.Like Bardhan, many in the city are facing difficulties in breathing, apart from coughing, burning sensation in the eyes, headaches, fatigue, skin rashes and fatigue. Forced to stay indoors due to the toxic air pollution levels, residents said this situation is reminiscent of the Covid period. Concerned parents have decided to stop their children from going outside to play and have also opted not to send them to school. Most of those who must step out of home have been putting on masks.A 49-year-old resident of Tata Primanti in Sector 72 said she has been facing breathing difficulties for two years whenever the air quality deteriorates. Priyanka Jhas 17-year-old son is suffering from asthma and is on a nebulizer. We are not stepping out and have cancelled all our outdoor plans. I am constantly feeling weak and sluggish with coughing, difficulty in breathing and itching and burning in the eyes. Even when I wake up in the morning, I dont feel refreshed, she said.Hazardous air affects people with weak lungs and hearts the most, and as a result, senior citizens are facing the greatest challenges. They are no longer able to go for their regular morning and evening walks, with many experiencing respiratory problems.Dheeraj Lal, who is in his 60s and is suffering from a heart disease, had sudden chest pain and was brought to Columbia Asia Hospital on Monday. He has not been able to sleep for two days. He was on sleeping pills. He was coughing all night and was having difficulties in breathing, said Neeraj (48), the patients brother. Doctors have prescribed Dheeraj an inhaler.The rise in PM 2.5 levels in particular is adversely affecting respiratory health, doctors said, with a majority of patients coming to OPDs suffering from respiratory distress, obstructive pulmonary disease and COPD. Several doctors said that they are giving patients nebulizers and steroids. The demand for flu shots has also risen.Dr Puneet Gupta, head (pulmonology, interventional pulmonology, and sleep medicine), Yatharth Hospital, said: I strongly advise our senior population to stay indoors as much as possible. In case of an increase in breathing difficulties, cough, throat irritation, a fall in oxygen levels, fever, or a change in the colour of sputum, one should immediately consult a healthcare professional such as a pulmonologist, who can assess lung function and provide guidance on adjustments to treatment plans to better cope with the effects of winter pollution. Monitoring lung function during this season is crucial.

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