Gurgaon air quality worsens, respiratory illnesses on the rise
City-based hospitals have reported a spike in the number of patients complaining of respiratory diseases over the last week, coinciding with the dip in air quality.
Experts said that the number of cases is expected to increase after Diwali.
Doctors said that the increase in the suspended particulate matter (PM), especially PM 2.5, is causing difficulty for residents. PM 2.5 consists of sulphate, ammonia, nitrates, black carbon, mineral dust and sodium chloride, making it difficult for residents to breathe in oxygen.
The PM 2.5 levels have also increased over the last week. The level of PM 2.5 on Wednesday was 123.98 µg/m³, an increase from 104.65 µg/m³ on Tuesday and 98.45 µg/m³ on Monday. The safe threshold for PM 2.5 is 60 µg/m³.
The city’s air quality index on Wednesday was 265, which worsened from the reading of 248 on Tuesday and 200 on Monday.
According to studies conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), open burning of solid waste and bursting of crackers emits pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2), which can settle in the lungs and worsen asthma and other respiratory problems.
“More than 60% of the patients visiting the hospital are suffering from respiratory diseases. Children and the elderly are worst affected due to breathing problem. After Diwali, the number of patients is likely to increase,” BK Rajora, chief medical officer, Civil Hospital, Gurgaon, said.
Residents complained of suffering from cold and flu.
“My four-year-old son is suffering from a cough for the past three days. He is also having issues breathing. We have stopped him from playing outside, as advised by doctors,” said Vandana Singh, a resident of Sector 30.
Doctors advised keeping children indoors as the air pollution is rising. “Children become easy prey to respiratory diseases as they have a larger lung surface area per kilogram of body weight than adults and, under normal breathing, breathe 50% more air per kilogram of body weight than adults,” Rajora said.
Health experts advised residents to use face masks while going out because breathing highly polluted air can lead to asthma and migraine attacks. Cold and flu can also lead to respiratory sickness, which can be transmitted among people through close contact, doctors said.
Dr Manoj Goel, director and HOD, Pulmonology and sleep medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, said, “People should avoid highly polluted areas. Also, a sudden change in temperature can also trigger respiratory problems.”