With people openly defying the Supreme Court order of bursting crackers within a particular 2-hour window, our capital city has been left choking and coughing. A thick blanket of smog has engulfed Delhi just a day after Diwali. The overall Air Quality Index of Delhi at 8:15 am on Friday morning was recorded at 428, which falls under the ‘hazardous’ category. An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 is satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 is marked as severe/hazardous, reported NDTV.
To showcase the severity of the issue, a pair of artificial lungs was installed in the premises of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi on November 3. As of now, the colour of the lungs has turned to black. The Logical Indian spoke to Dr Arvind Kumar, who has been a thoracic (chest) surgeon for the last 20 years and is the co-founder of Lung Care Foundation. He said “A parent, holding their child in the lap is lighting firecrackers with joy. I don’t understand that how can they not see that not are they exposing their children to pollution, but subsequently putting the entire city’s life at risk.”
He said that since Diwali, many people have been complaining of a cough and chest pain. “A lot of my friends called me up asking how to take care of a cough or eye irritation,” Dr Arvind shares. According to a report by a research group Urban Emissions, almost 5 million kilograms of firecrackers were burnt in Delhi alone which led to an emission of 150,000 kilograms of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5.
Through an Initiative of ‘Help Delhi Breathe’, in partnership with Lung Care Foundation and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, an artificial lung replica was installed in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital campus. The lung replica was made by Jhatkaa, a Bengaluru based NGO. This turned grey within a day of its installation.
Turned grey from white in 24hrs
This replica of the human lungs was made with the fine surgical fabric used in operations. “The fabric has fine pores and can trap any kind of particulate matter. Just like how our lungs function,” said Dr Arvind Kumar in an exclusive interview with The Logical Indian.
“To facilitate the act of breathing, there are fans behind the filter, just like air passes through our lungs. So, this replica can perfectly mimic the functioning of a lung,” he further clarifies. He elaborated how the amount of impurities can affect the lungs.
“Today the colour of the lungs is dark grey and by Friday it is going to be black,” Dr Kumar laments. He says that the same thing is happening to the people of Delhi. He also mentions that the AQI (Air Quality Index) around the area where the lung has been installed is better than the rest of Delhi.
“You’re breathing poison”
Dr Kumar says that children are the ones who are suffering the most because of pollution. He says, “These particulate matters when dissolved in the lungs can cause a variety of issues. Breathing disorder, heart attack, reproductive problems and the worst affected are children. Because of pollution, their lung development, brain development, body development is stunted. The children are at higher risk of chest infection, pneumonia and high risks of cancer.”
“You’re breathing poison,” Dr Kumar says sternly. He remarks that once the air quality has reached such a poor level, the only thing to do is stop breathing.
“There are temporary measures to battle this pollution such as masks and air filters. But masks do not work in a crowded area. Can we have all the children in Delhi wearing masks?”, the concerned doctor asks.
“Air pollution is a health crisis and more so in Delhi. It is an emergency and no masks and air filters can completely ensure our well-being. There lies a solution in stopping the pollution sources. Let’s not make the already poisonous air even more polluted in Diwali or Chhat puja or Guru Purab or during Christmas and New Year celebrations by bursting crackers,” an earnest plea from Dr Arvind Kumar.
The Logical Indian urges all the stakeholders to consider the severity of the situation. The onus lies on us, the citizens, to protect our environment and the very air we breathe.