Ninety children, who were admitted to hospital on Wednesday after showing symptoms of nausea and dizziness, are in a stable condition. They are in various hospitals in Thane district and Mumbai and doctors said they would be released in a day or two.
The police have arrested six shopkeepers for selling the Holi colours, which have allegedly triggered the symptoms in the children, all from slums in Ambernath. They have booked them under clauses relating to being “negligent in business” and “selling poisonous materials intentionally.”
The children, aged between 7 and 14, are being treated for high levels of methemoglobin in their blood. Doctors suspect the Holi colours contained toxic aniline or carbon compounds, which raised the methemoglobin levels in the children’s bloodstream. They think the colour entered the children’s bloodstream through the skin or lips.
“Generally, the level of methemoglobin in the blood should be only about one per cent, but it is about 25 per cent in the admitted children, who showed symptoms of nausea and dizziness,” said Dr Alka Jadhav, pediatrician at Sion hospital, where some children have been admitted. When the methemoglobin level crosses 65 per cent, it can be fatal. “Methhemoglobin cannot carry oxygen and when its proportion increases in red blood cells, it can lead to tissue degeneration. In severe cases, it can lead to coma and even death,” she said.
The children were first admitted to Ulhasnagar’s Central Hospital. Subsequently, most of them were shifted to other hospitals: 51 are now in Thane’s Civil Hospital, 6 in Ambernath’s Ashwini Hospital, 9 in Mumbai’s Sion Hospital, 4 are in Thane’s Jupiter Hospital, while 20 remain in Ulhasnagar’s Central Hospital.