29-year-old Mumbai engineer smokes ‘magic coal’ hookah, gets severe chest infection 
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29-year-old Mumbai engineer smokes ‘magic coal’ hookah, gets severe chest infection 

The man had been smoking hookahs with charcoal doused in chemicals for two months; was rushed to hospital for breathlessness

mumbai Updated: Feb 23, 2018 11:22 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Mumbai man,smoker
Navi Mumbai - 3rd June 2010 - Hookah parlours in city catching up - Photo by Bachchan Kumar(Hindustan Times)

Doctors in the city are treating a 29-year-old man who acquired chest infection from smoking hookahs at home.

The IT engineer had been smoking hookahs fired with ‘magic coal’ – charcoal chunks doused in chemicals to make it burn faster – for two months. He was hospitalised two weeks ago to treat breathlessness, respiratory failure and severe chest infection.

Dr Arvind Kate, pulmonologist from Zen Hospital, Chembur, said: “The patient, a frequent hookah smoker, had purchased a new hookah from Singapore and bought magic coal to smoke it at home. However, after two months of smoking it, he was rushed to the hospital with complaints of breathlessness,” said Dr Kate. A CT scan of the patient’s chest showed white patches across the lungs which according to the doctors, indicated severe chest infection caused by unknown bacteria.

“We kept the patient on continuous antibacterial and antifungal medicines for two weeks and kept him under observation. He was discharged recently and has been asked to abstain from smoking,” Dr Kate added.

The charcoal used to make magic coal is coated with potentially hazardous chemicals for faster ignition. It’s widely popular amongst youngsters and people who frequently smoke hookah at home as lighting it is easier than burning normal coal.

Dr Nilkanth Awad, head of the department of pulmonology at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion, said burning of magic coal results in emission of hazardous gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. “Asthmatic patients are especially prone to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or bronchitis owing to prolonged use of the coal. Apart from that, burning of the coal releases particulate matter which enters the lungs and increases chances of respiratory infection and lung failure,” said Dr Awad.

Oncologists said magic coal, hookah flavours and other smoking materials used in it contain 28 cancer-causing substances such as benzopyrine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and 3,000 other harmful chemicals. “Even when tobacco is not used, carbon monoxide, a highly poisonous gas is released by burning charcoal. Even though it is filtered by water, it is considered to be carcinogenic,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck cancer surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital.

First Published: Feb 23, 2018 00:20 IST