Preparing to celebrate Diwali with the usual bursting of crackers and light displays? Better add face and ear masks to your shopping list, for pollutants released during the festival of lights can cause some of the most serious respiratory and optical diseases.
According to a survey carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the accepted set value for crackers is 124 decibels at a distance of four m from the point of detonation, but 95 per cent of crackers breach this noise and pollution standard.
The harmful chemicals emitted through smoke are known to cause asthma, allergic rhinitis, bronchitis and other respiratory problems, Dr Arvind Soni, senior ENT surgeon of the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals said.
"The only way of protection is either not bursting crackers at all or always wearing a face mask or ear mask while doing so," he said. The impact of the crackers with their loud and splitting noise is something which the medical fraternity has long been advising against.
"Hearing impairment and burns owing to negligent handling of the crackers and freak accidents are not the only perceptible fallout, some crackers can also have an impact on mental health," he said.
Although many people do not feel the immediate impact, these problems could develop into serious health hazards.
According to doctors, one should also take care of the eyes because of increased threat to them during the festivities.
"It is important to ensure that crackers are burst in open space like public parks and not in narrow alleys as this sometimes results in accidents due to a change in their directions," said Dr Alkesh Choudhary, senior eye surgeon of the G M Modi hospital.
"People need to be cautious in splashing water on the eyes in case of irritation. If some chemical has gone into the eyes, the water should not be splashed as it can aggravate the problem," he said.
Research has shown that at the time of Diwali the percentage of pollutants rises in the air. These pollutants inhaled not only cause trouble to asthma patients but also lead to diseases like bronchitis.
"Crackers contain detrimental elements which are highly toxic, such as, heavy metals like copper, cadmium, lead, manganese, zinc, sodium and potassium," according to Dr Amitabh Malik, ENT specialist Paras hospital, Gurgaon.
"Copper is nothing less than a poison for humans. Its inhalation can cause irritation in the respiratory track and access of copper inhalation may cause 'Wilson's disease' in which copper deposits in brain, skin, liver and pancreas," he said.