Holi 2024: Harmful effects of chemical Holi colours on your health, tips for a safe celebration | Health - Hindustan Times
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Holi 2024: Harmful effects of chemical Holi colours on your health, tips for a safe celebration

By, New Delhi
Mar 20, 2024 05:00 PM IST

Chemicals in Holi colours can lead to many harmful effects on health from skin issues, eye problems to respiratory troubles.

Holi 2024: The festival of colours is almost here and people who love to celebrate it cannot wait to soak themselves in the vibrant hues of Holi. Children especially are quite fond of Holi and for many of them the festival begins at least a week before the main festivities. While the blast of colours is a visual treat and getting drenched in the coloured water is a joy, the excitement of the festival can be marred by chemical-based colours that can play spoilsport, and lead to many harmful effects on health from skin issues, eye problems to respiratory troubles. (Also read | Holi 2024: 4 tips to celebrate the festival of colours in a safe and eco-friendly way)

Holi is a vibrant festival of colours, but the chemical-laden colours used can pose a threat to your health. They often contain harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium, and asbestos.(Freepik)
Holi is a vibrant festival of colours, but the chemical-laden colours used can pose a threat to your health. They often contain harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium, and asbestos.(Freepik)

Unlike earlier times when there was absolutely no health hazard in playing Holi with colours made of flowers, in modern times colours are created artificially with industrial dyes or oxidized metals mixed with oil. Harmful chemicals like lead oxide, chromium iodide, copper sulphate, mercury sulphite and aluminium bromide are widely used in Holi colours.

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Hazardous chemicals such as endotoxins and heavy metals, like lead, can cause moderate to severe health problem in people. No wonder post Holi celebrations, many people make rounds to doctor's clinics and hospitals complaining of skin issues, respiratory tract infection, conjunctivitis, corneal aberration and ocular damage.

Holi is a vibrant festival of colours, but the chemical-laden colours used can pose a threat to your health. They often contain harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium, and asbestos.

HARMFUL EFFECTS OF HOLI COLOURS

Dr Tushar Tayal, Consultant-Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram explains the harmful effects of Holi colours:

• Skin irritation and allergies: Chemical colours can cause skin irritation, redness, itching, and burning sensation. People with sensitive skin are more prone to these problems.

• Eye problems: Chemical colours can cause eye irritation, redness, watering, and even temporary blindness if they get into the eyes.

• Cancer: Some of the chemicals used in Holi colours, such as lead and chromium, are carcinogenic and can increase the risk of cancer with prolonged exposure.

Dr Deepa Dewan, Senior Director- Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Gurgaon, Golf Course Road says Holi colours can cause toxicity and pose serious health risks to pregnant women and lead to respiratory issues.

Eye irritation: Direct contact with chemical colours can cause irritation, redness, and even temporary blindness if the colour enters the eyes. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to eye irritation due to hormonal changes that can make their eyes more sensitive.

Respiratory problems: The fine particles of chemical colours can become airborne during Holi celebrations, leading to respiratory problems such as coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and exacerbation of conditions like asthma. Pregnant women may experience heightened respiratory sensitivity during pregnancy.

Toxicity: Many chemical-based colours contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, chromium, and ammonia, which can be absorbed through the skin and may pose serious health risks, especially for pregnant women and their developing foetuses. Exposure to these toxins can lead to developmental abnormalities and other complications during pregnancy.

Environmental pollution: Chemical colours not only harm human health but also have adverse effects on the environment. They can contaminate water bodies, soil, and vegetation, leading to ecological damage and posing long-term risks to biodiversity.

"To mitigate these risks, it is advisable to use natural and eco-friendly colours made from plant-based sources such as turmeric, beetroot, spinach, and flowers. Pregnant women should avoid direct contact with chemical-based colours, which can contain harmful substances like heavy metals and synthetic dyes. Opt for natural and eco-friendly colours made from plant-based sources to minimise exposure to toxins. Consider wearing gloves, sunglasses, and a cap or scarf to protect your hands, eyes, and hair from colours splashes. This can help reduce the risk of skin and eye irritation," says Dr Dewan.

TIPS TO PLAY SAFE HOLI

Dr Tayal shares some tips for staying safe during Holi:

• Play with herbal colours made from natural ingredients like flowers, leaves, and vegetables.

• Apply coconut oil or moisturizer to your skin before playing Holi to create a barrier against the colours.

• Wear sunglasses and a scarf to protect your eyes and nose from the coloured powder.

• Avoid contact with eyes and mouth.

• Wash your hair and body thoroughly with clean water after playing Holi.

• If you experience any skin irritation, redness, or breathing problems, consult a doctor immediately.

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