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Along Comes Diwali, And It's Health Hazards; Tips To Stay Safe

It is the season to be jolly! Diwali is here but with it comes some health hazards. Read on to know more

Along Comes Diwali, And It's Health Hazards; Tips To Stay Safe

Happpy Diwali 2017

With Diwali and winters coming too, apart from the excitement, there is also a concern that comes along – Air pollution. In a survey done in 2014, it was seen that the air pollution levels went up by 5 to 8 times during Diwali just because of of the burning of fireworks. Air pollution not only worsens respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and asthma, it also affects concentration, causes headaches and can also increase blood pressure.

Firecrackers are made of a number of metals and chemicals. When we burn them, these chemicals and metals get released into the causing toxic effects.

1. Lead: When heated lead can emit highly toxic fumes that affects our brain and nerves.   Young children can suffer from developmental delays, slow growth and learning disability by exposure to lead.

2. Magnesium: Inhalation of magnesium dust and fumes can cause a condition called metal fume fever – a flu like condition with fever, chills and muscle weakness caused by metal toxins.

3. Zinc:  Otherwise non-toxic, zinc emits toxic fumes on burning also causing metal fume fever.

4. Manganese dust and fumes can cause lung irritation, muscle rigidity, tremors and even paralysis.

5. Sodium, Potassium and copper – form toxic gases on burning causing irritation of the airway causing cough, burns and difficulty breathing.

6. Cadmium fumes when inhaled over time, deposists in the body damaging the liver and kidney. It can also make the bones brittles causing fractures easily.

7. Phosphorous in the form of phosphate is poisonous when inhaled, ingested or through skin contact. The amount builds over time affecting the brain causing headaches, depression and affects concentration. It can also cause severe eye damage and affect the liver.

8. Sulphur in the form of Sulphate irritates the airways and lungs causing swelling and inability to breath. It can also burn and irritate the skin.

9. Nitrates and Nitrites – both emit toxic fumes on burning causing weakness, abdominal pain, convulsions and coma.

Elderly, pregnant women and children are especially prone to these harmful affects.

Some steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from air pollution are :

When Indoors
1.    Keep your doors and windows closed during peak hours especially if you are facing the roads to reduce smoke and dust indoors. Take out a time in the day to air out your home- noon is usually the best time.
2.    Make sure you clean your house regularly and try and use a wet cloth to clean surface areas, plants and objects to remove the dust
3.    Put indoor plants like Areca Palm, money plant and mother in laws tongue – these plants are proven to decrease indoor carbon dioxide levels.
4.    Buy Air Purifiers- These are devices that clean the indoor air by removing impurities like dust particles, smoke including particulate matter smaller than PM 2.5.

When outdoors
1.    Avoid exercising outside during high air pollution levels as more dust enters when we breath heavily.
2.    Wear reusable air masks when you are outdoors especially when you suffer from lung conditions like asthma.
3.    Try car pooling whenever possible as every little step matters at this time.

Hopefully the ban on fireworks this year will help in keeping air pollution levels under control as well protect us from these toxic fumes. Have a safe and Happy Diwali!

(Dr.Sonia Lal Gupta is a neurologist specializing in Headache Medicine and Strokes. She is practicing at Metro Multispecialty Hospital, Noida and MP Heart Clinic, New Delhi. She is also the co-host of NDTV's weekly health segment "Doctors on Call".)

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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