25% rise in pollution-related ailments after Deonar fire

  • Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 23, 2016 00:30 IST
The fire at the Deonar dumping ground. (Prashant Waydande)

Doctors from areas near the Deonar landfill have witnessed a 25% rise in respiratory ailments after the Deonar fire.

“We have observed more than 35 cases of lung problems in the past four days, compared to two-three cases a day and the situation might get worse if the Deonar fire continues,” said Dr Prashant Chhajed, pulmonologist, Fortis Hospital, Vashi. “We have observed a distinct rise in symptoms of patients with already existing lung problems such as asthma and chronic bronchitis. A lot of patients who were stable on medication are now suffering from wheezing and cough.”

Another lung-specialist from Chembur pointed out there has been a rise in patients complaining of irritation in the respiratory tract. “We have been getting seven to eight cases a day, with symptoms such as throat irritation, cough, burning and redness in the eyes. All patients visiting our clinic are residents of either Chembur or Govandi,” said Dr Arvind Kate, chest physician, Zen Hospital in Chembur.

Doctors in the area have advised patients to wear pollution masks and increase the dosage of medication. “The civic body needs to take immediate action to reduce the smoke as there are dioxins (toxic chemicals) released with the smoke that are carcinogenic. Persistent exposure to smoke released from the burning of toxic garbage is extremely dangerous for people residing close to the dumping ground,” said Dr Vikas Oswal, chest physician from Govandi and consultant at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Shatabdi Tuberculosis Hospital.

Dr Oswal said he had witnessed a 40% rise in the number of patients during the last Deonar fire earlier this year. “If the smoke from the fire is not controlled over the next two days, the situation might be worse,” he said.

A resident of Chembur, Atul Deshpande, 76, said he had not left his house for the past two days, as he suffers from allergic rhinitis. “Whenever there is excess smoke in the air, I start coughing and sneezing. I am forced to take medicines and use a nebulizer twice a day. I was advised by the doctor to go out for evening walks, but until the fire dies down, I will have to stay indoors,” he said.

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