Lots of candles, beautiful decorated houses with lights, sweets and family time make Diwali my favourite holiday of the year. The only down side- swallowing the smog that emerges the next day .
Delhi is the most polluted city in the world when it comes to air quality, according to a WHO study released earlier this year. The 2014 version of the Ambient Air Pollution (AAP) database contains results of outdoor air pollution monitoring from almost 1600 cities in 91 countries. Sadly, the national capital has the highest concentration of PM2.5 — particulate matters less than 2.5 microns— form of air pollution, which is considered most serious. This form of concentration consists of tiny particles that put people at additional risk of respiratory diseases and other health problems. Reacting to the report, Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the new WHO database only confirms the health concerns in India.” According to global burden of disease estimates, air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India. Tiny particles (PM10 and PM2.5) go deep inside our lungs and trigger respiratory and cardiac problems as well as lung cancer,” she said in an article.
Given this background, one would really feel that it couldn’t get much worse. Well one would be wrong. Time to bring out those inhalers and face-masks, in case they weren’t out already. Here comes Diwali; the festival of Lights. And for a large number of Delhiites, (present company included), a festival of antihistamines, inhalers, nasal sprays, antibiotics, cough medicine and what not.
Air quality in New Delhi will now deteriorate to “severe” levels this week after yesterday, when many Indians set off firecrackers to celebrate the Hindu festival of lights, leaving many at risk of respiratory problems. The warning, based for the first time on India’s newly launched national Air Quality Index, and is on the same lines of the earlier World Health Organisation study. “Delhiites are going to breathe very poor-to-severe air at least for two days,” said Gufran Beig, chief scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, referring to Thursday, when our nation celebrates Diwali, and a day after.
The city of over 16 million people will see its air pollution index jump to 450 from 220 currently. A reading above 401 could put the healthy at risk for respiratory problems and seriously affect those already ill, the new index explains.
Being one of the many affected and hobbling along, on even a normal day in Delhi, I do hope that one day, India start to celebrate this wonderful festival in the spirit it is meant to be enjoyed in. Let’s light up each other lives on Diwali and forget the crackers. We have enough concentrations of P.M2.5 to worry about.
Health Issues India wishes all its a readers a belated happy Diwali and a healthy year ahead!