Lockdown measures in the last couple of weeks significantly reduced air pollution levels in our country. Kolkata people got to breathe fresh air according to the international standard for a substantial period of time for the first time in the recorded history. Our city witnessed clear blue sky, lush green trees, and clean water in Ganges with utmost pleasure. The poisonous haze in the air is gone.
Dr Sanjukta Dutta, Head of Emergency Medicine Department at Fortis Anandapur said, “We, doctors were surprised to see a huge impact of this pollution free environment and imposed life style modification in our people. Researchers, doctors always talk about the importance of fresh air, good food and healthy life. This lockdown has shown us how pollution free environment and little lifestyle modification can dramatically change our health status and disease profile.”
People in the city are remarkably healthier and disease-free. Patient of lung diseases like asthma, COPD are doing extremely well with lesser medication or no medication. Many are not requiring nebulisation or oxygen support which they had to use regularly. A big number of patients of hypertension are maintaining normal blood pressure with reduced medication. Hospitals in the city are receiving significantly lesser number of heart attacks and stroke patients. During lockdown accident victims are negligible because of obvious reasons. Social distancing and avoidance of outside food have reduced the transmission of most infectious diseases. Common airborne diseases like chicken pox, pneumonia or food and water borne diseases like typhoid, hepatitis, diarrhoea, jaundice are almost vanished. Kids are not suffering from allergies, breathing problem or recurrent infections. Elderly people are doing much better than before. Even among the Covid-19 fear people in the city are living healthier lives.
Unfortunately India tops the world with the highest number of lung ailments and death from lung diseases. But in the last couple of weeks it had been a dream place for our asthma, COPD patients. We hardly treated these patients in recent days with exacerbations of their lung problems. Normally they are the regular visitors of emergency departments with shortness of breath and infections.
We wish we could beat the Corona and retain this pollution free, disease free Kolkata.
Now lockdown is being lifted slowly. We are seeing increasing number of vehicles with increasing traffic on the roads. Many are emitting poisonous gases and black fumes. Industries will soon start pouring untreated effluent and toxic exhausts in the environment. Uncovered, disorganised construction works will pollute the air with deadly particulate matters. Road side eateries, charcoal ovens, indiscriminate burning of garbage will poison the air as well. Above all, recent cyclone, Amphan has killed thousands of trees and taken off a big part of the green cover of the city.
“I am afraid that we would bounce back to our pre-lockdown state pretty soon, if we are not careful enough. With the poisonous air to breathe our kids will suffer. Asthma, COPD patients would start suffocating again and would inhale nebulisers multiple times a day to stay alive. Heart attacks, strokes, road traffic accidents, infectious diseases, allergic reactions would be overflowing in emergency rooms and this healthy life would be gone for ever.
Together if we can be more responsible and vigilant, if we can take little extra care not to litter our environment and stop others to do the same, we might be able to ration this pollution free and disease free environment to a great extent.
I always tell people, don’t just save money for your kids, save their lungs. They should be alive and healthy to enjoy the money you save”, said Dr Sanjukta Dutta.