Chulha smoke, metal & stone dust leading to chronic lung disease in Faridabad

Doctors say they are seeing alarmingly poor lung health among people in the region

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Faridabad: Air pollution due to smoke from chulha and angithies, metal dust from machines in factories, and dust from stone cutting in Aravalis is leading to poor lung health among people in and around Faridabad.
Individuals directly exposed to these pollutants are particularly at risk of severe lung disease, according to experts at Amrita Hospital.
Doctors say they are seeing alarmingly poor lung health among people in the region, with many of them coming with advanced stage of lung disease after ignoring symptoms for years.
Said Dr. Arjun Khanna, Head, Dept. of Pulmonary Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Sector-88, Faridabad: “Women in villages in Faridabad and rural areas around Delhi are still cooking food on traditional chulha or angithis, which cause significant smoke pollution. They don’t realize that this smoke is even more dangerous than cigarette smoke and gets inhaled in large quantity daily. Even a few years of daily exposure to chulha smoke causes as much lung damage as someone smoking cigarettes for 30 years. Due to this, we are seeing large number of young women patients in their 30s and 40s suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition typically found in elderly cigarette smokers who have been smoking for decades. Many of these women are from well-to-do families in villages, but they still prefer to use chulha that burns wood or animal dung. This is an old kitchen tradition they find hard to break even when cooking gas is available.”
He added: “In India, neither lung disease nor women’s health are given high priority, and people tend to overlook symptoms for years. When exposed to chulha smoke, the situation becomes much worse. Treatment of COPD is not very difficult. Some basic medicines, breathing exercises, and avoiding smoke can make one’s life return to normal, even though the disease cannot be reversed.”
Faridabad is the biggest industrial town in Delhi-NCR. Direct exposure to pollution from industrial activity in the city is also causing poor lung health among people. Said Dr. Sourabh Pahuja, Consultant, Dept. of Pulmonary Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Sector-88, Faridabad: “Workers in industries are constantly getting exposed to pollutants and substances they work with, such as metal dust, leading to occupational lung diseases like asbestosis and silicosis. Faridabad falls in the Aravali range, with stone-crushing and stone-cutting as an industry. Stone dust is inhaled by these workers every day due to lack of protective equipment. Many people from factories and stone-crushers are coming to us, suffering from lung disease due to long-term exposure to pollutants at workplace.”
The doctors said that another challenge is the reluctance of people in rural areas to allow children suffering from asthma to use pumps or nebulizers. “Asthmatic young children studying in school are not allowed to use pumps or nebulizers by parents due to fears that it will become a lifelong habit and hamper their marriage prospects. This is a deep social prejudice in rural and semi-urban areas that needs to be tackled,” said Dr. Sourabh Pahuja.