Leave the patakas behind, don't burn your health this Diwali!
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Leave the patakas behind, don't burn your health this Diwali!

Who doesn't like to see firecrackers lighting up the sky, but beneath the colours and sound of those crackers, we fail to realise what harm we are causing to ourselves and to our children. Here are a few chronic risks the packets of joy come with.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 22, 2014 17:58 IST
Dr Anurupa Roy
Dr Anurupa Roy
Hindustan Times
diwali,diwali precautions,diwali health hazards

Who doesn't like to see firecrackers lighting up the sky, but beneath the colours and sound of those crackers, we fail to realise what harm we are causing to ourselves and to our children when we pray for their good health to the goddess, the same evening.

We are also putting the laborers working in firecracker industry at health risks. Before we call ourselves an educated and responsible citizen, we should know various acute and chronic risks these packets of joy come with.

Children, pregnant women, immune-compromised patients and older people suffer the most which might prove fatal as well. Results of studies have shown that the levels of suspended particulate matters (SPM), CO, hydrocarbons, Sulphur Dioxide, Barium, Strontium, Copper etc. increase to unprecedented levels in air during colorful fireworks displays and remains suspended in air for quite a long time.

Health hazards
Skin: Rashes, acne, minor to severe burns that might be life threatening as well.

Ears: Fireworks can be loud and can exceed 120 decibels which is way greater than tolerable range of noise by human ears. Increase in the sound levels during fireworks can lead to tinnitus (hearing of sound when there is none), damage to ear drums and internal ear and even permanent deafness.
'Firecrackers may be one of three kinds- noise- like the bombs, display- like the sparklers, motion- like the sky shots or rockets etc. They may also be any combination of these- all by the use of heavy metals, and gases in various ways.

Also read:This Diwali, have a blast, but not literally

"The lead and manganese can unravel the central nervous system. The noise is much higher than the factory floor- 120 dB, which can cause deafness that may be permanent or may recover after removal from noise. The pressure blast from the crackers can also cause a ruptured drum which may need surgery to repair the defect. Thus, avoiding firecrackers is the best, if not, using very minimal and milder ones should be encouraged," says Dr Nidhi Dhawan, Senior ENT Consultant at SCEH ( Shroff's), Daryaganj, New Delhi.

Respiratory System: Inhalation of polluted air from burning firecrackers not only makes one to cough, breathe and talk with difficulty, causes throat irritation, sinusitis, rhinitis, pneumonia etc. but also triggers acute asthma attacks, aggravates chronic lung diseases and bronchitis in patients who are allergic or having low immunity.

Eyes: Firecrackers can cause serious injury to the eyes from temporary irritation to permanent loss of vision. It is not only valid for people who are actively involved in burning crackers, but also for the onlookers and passerby human beings and animals. The dust can cause irritation, red and watery eyes, conjunctivitis, itching whereas serious injuries involve corneal and scleral tears, traumatic iridodialysis with hyphema, intraocular foreign body (IOFB), eye lid and lashes burn and blindness to mention a few.

Also read:When was the last time you had a Gharwali Diwali?

"The burns from blast and chemical injuries can threaten eye sight. Globe ruptures and fractures, retinal detachment and hemorrhages in the eye layers can be a direct outcome of the injury. Smaller issues of allergic reactions in the eye and small foreign particles are still easier to deal with, but perforating injuries can quickly turn frolic into tragedy and hence, we should avoid it as much as possible, " says Dr Sanjay Dhawan, Director, and Head Ophthalmology FMRI ( Fortis), Gurgaon, Haryana.

Circulatory and Nervous System: Fireworks causes lack of concentration, restlessness, irritation, sleep disorders and pose serious threat to cardiac patients. Barium, if accumulated to higher levels in water gets into food chain and can cause muscular weakness.

Thyroid: Fireworks releases perchlorate- a hormone altering substance that is used as a oxidizer which trickles to the ground, contaminate waterways and infiltrate food chain. It can impair the function of the thyroid gland by blocking the intake of iodide and is most harmful to the fetus because thyroid hormones regulate their growth.

Best way to celebrate is to avoid firecrackers at all cost.

Precautionary measures

1. Avoid synthetic frilled cloths.
2. Stay away from the crackers while burning.
3. Respiratory and cardiac patients should keep their inhalers handy and stay in a sound proof place away from fumes and dust.
4. Use ear plugs and breathing masks.
5. Wash your hands after touching firecrackers.
6. In case of burns, do not remove cloths adhering to body without a medical supervision. Keep the area of burn away from further contamination and head to hospital on emergency basis. If possible, avoid icy cold water and ice cubes. Such measures could cause further damage to burned skin.
7. Serious or bad burns should be covered loosely with dry dressings. This can be accomplished by simply putting clean, dry sheets (sterile if available, else clean and washed) under and over the patient, with a blanket on top to prevent heat loss.
8. Keep emergency numbers and first aid box handy.

First Published: Oct 22, 2014 17:31 IST