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With Diwali, the festival of lights, the festive spirit associated with the joyous occasion can be felt in the air. Do you know what else can be felt in the air as well? Pollution! There is a startling increase in the pollution level due to the burning of firecrackers. Apart from the new clothes, sweets and being with our loved ones, the crackers are an inseparable part of Diwali. So know how you can stay safe while having the best time of your life?
Suspended particulate matter
Innumerable tiny particles called the suspended particulate matter are found in the air that we breathe. The amount of SPM found in the air determines the level of air pollution. While the safe level of particulate matter is 100 per cubic meter, many Indian cities report a level of around 1600 which is 14 times higher than what is considered safe.
The suspended particulate matter can cause severe respiratory diseases since they can stick to the sides of the airway and travel deep into the lungs. The particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter called the PM 2.5 can get deep into that portion of the lungs where gas exchange between inhaled air and the bloodstream occurs. These particles are quite dangerous because they travel to the alveolar portion of the lungs which does not have an efficient means to remove the particles from the passage. Moreover, if the particles are water soluble, then they will eventually pass into the bloodstream.
Decrease in lung function
PM 2.5 can cause aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases while also causing premature death. The pollution level rises to a great extent during Diwali when firecrackers are burnt, and this gives the PM 2.5 level a big shoot up. People generally develop chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function among other respiratory problems.
The gaseous particles released as a result of burning firecrackers tend to stay suspended in the air. The smaller particles stay suspended for days or weeks and travel farther while the bigger particles known as PM 10 stay suspended in the air for minutes or hours. While PM 2.5 particles travel for hundreds of miles, the PM 10 particles usually travel within a range of 100 yards to 30 miles.
Blockage in the lungs
While inhaling, the particles present in the air enter through our respiratory tract into our lungs. While PM 2.5 is small and passes into our bloodstreams, the larger PM 10 particles get stuck at the sides and the narrow passages of the lungs. Also, some people have the habit of breathing through their mouth. This allows much more particles to enter easily into the deepest portions of your lungs.
Know how you can cope with it
While you enjoy the festive spirit, it is also important to avoid any long-term health issues. So, apart from the time you are into lighting crackers, follow these simple steps to be safe while having fun.
- When you are on the road travel while wearing a face mask, preferably N95 respirator and roll up your car’s windows.
- You can also check the air quality index in your neighborhood before stepping out to be sure.
- It is advised not to exercise outdoors for a few days since the SPM will be high during and after Diwali.
- Do not let children play outdoors for long hours.
- Taking garlic and vitamin C rich foods will improve your immune system which can help cope with the situation.
- If you have any chronic pulmonary diseases such as asthma, additional care needs to be exercised so that the condition does not worsen.
So, this 2017, have a happy and lung-friendly Diwali! Consult an expert & get answers to your questions!