A random screening of traffic policemen in the Capital revealed that one in four cops had allergy and high blood pressure because of breathing heavily polluted air.
To coincide with ‘world asthma and allergy awareness month’, BLK Super Speciality Hospital recently screened 160 traffic police personnel for lung capacity to highlight the grave health risks they face on duty.
“Out of the 160 who attended the screening camp, symptoms related to chest and lungs such as shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, etc., were found in many cops. Symptoms of allergy were found in 25% personnel while 25% had abnormal blood pressure,” said Dr Vikas Maurya, senior consultant, respiratory, allergy and sleep disorder.
According to the doctors, some of them would require further investigation and even treatment.Traffic policemen cops are prone to lung diseases, given the worsening air quality in Delhi caused by heavy vehicular traffic and industrial pollutants.
Around one-fourth of Delhi’s alarming pollution is caused by vehicular emissions such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide and particulate matter.
Most cops showed symptoms indicative of early signs of asthma such as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, chronic coughing, troubled sleeping due to coughing or wheezing, etc.
Delhi has seen a dramatic rise in vehicular population. A huge floating polulation of vehicles from other states also come to Delhi every day. Traffic policemen working at busy traffic signals get exposed to the vehicular emissions for years together.
The fumes, chemicals and particles present in the emission cause serious changes in the lungs. These changes indicate restriction in lung expansion, obstruction and narrowing of the airways.
“Due to prolonged exposure, traffic cops are vulnerable and more prone to catching allergy and infection that can lead to asthma and, in extreme conditions, can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. COPD is a progressive lung disease that makes it hard to breathe,” Dr Maurya added.
Muktesh Chander, special commissioner of police (traffic), said: “Our men brave the worst adversities of pollution, besides the highest degree of stress and long hours of duty. While we do have regular tests and mechanism to ensure their health is monitored, we encourage them to undergo regular yoga and meditation sessions to keep them fitter and happier. Masks are provided to them but they are not fully effective against gases.”