The demolition of Noida’s twin towers is making much news with the short videos of the blast going viral all over the internet. The huge mound of debris and clouds of dust will take their own time to clear out and as the particulate matter add to the air pollution of the surrounding areas people who have respiratory and heart related issues must watch out for any health problems and take adequate steps to be healthy. According to a study, the risk of heart attack increases by 1.5 times a day after a dust storm. Silica present in dust particles can also damage lungs. Here are expert tips to take care of your heart, lungs and kidney. (Also read: Itchy skin after Noida twin towers demolition? Skincare tips by expert)
“Demolition of twin towers in Noida has resulted in tonnes of debris and is expected to increase air pollution by 5-fold. Increase in dust and smoke has raised health concerns. It may take few weeks before its effect wanes off,” says Dr Gurmeet Singh Chabbra, Director Pulmonology, Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad.
CAN DUST POLLUTION CAUSE HEART PROBLEMS
Dr. Nishith Chandra – Principal Director, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla road, New Delhi, says that PM2.5 and ultrafine particles are the most dangerous to our lungs and respiratory system and could cause inflammation in inner lining of blood vessels.
“The pollutants can be divided into particulate and gaseous. Dust comes under particulate category. Depending upon the size of particles they can be classified into, PM10: particle size from 2.5 to 10 microns, PM2.5: particle size less than 2.5 microns, and ultrafine particles: Size less than 0.1 microns. The most dangerous amongst these are PM2.5 and ultrafine particles. They enter through our nose, respiratory tract and settle in lung alveoli, where they cause inflammation, causing lung damage. These particles are so small, that they can also get absorbed in to blood stream and then causes inflammation of the inner lining (endothelium) of blood vessels, causing plaque rupture. This can cause heart attacks, stroke or kidney failure,” says Dr Chandra.
Common household dust, building dust comes under PM10 category. Dust particles are usually 2 to 10 microns in size.
WHO IS MORE PRONE TO HEART ATTACK OR OTHER HEALTH ISSUES DUE TO EXCESS DUST?
In one study published in European Heart Journal, researchers found that the risk of heart attack increases by 1.5 times, a day after a dust storm. Silica present in dust particles can also damage lungs.
“Some people are particularly more prone for heart disease after dust exposure, such as people aged more than 75, males, hypertension, diabetes, and/or chronic kidney disease patients have 2.45 times the odds of acute heart attacks, following a dust storm event,” says Dr Chandra.
“Patients of chronic lung disease like COPD (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), Bronchial Asthma, bronchiectasis may experience worsening of their symptoms or an attack. They are advised to strictly adhere to their treatment and consult a specialist in case of increase in cough, sputum, chest congestion or tightness, wheeze or shortness of breath,” says Chabbra.
POTENTIAL HEALTH PROBLEMS POST DEMOLITION
Dr Chabbra explains other health issues that can arise due to increase in air pollution and dust.
– High level of suspended particles especially PM 2.5 makes covid virus to remain suspended in air for a longer time leading to its spread. PM2.5 acts as a potential carrier for SARS Cov 2.
– Building demolition generates large amount of PM2.5 containing elevated concentrations of heavy metals. Inhalation of heavy metals is also linked to diseases like sarcoidosis.
– Even PM10 would increase in air and it is directly linked to increase in severity and mortality of Covid 19.
– Other health care concerns are worsening of ENT problems like nasal congestion, blockage and discharge, sneezing, throat irritation, Post nasal drip. Headaches and flare up of skin allergies may be noticed.
– Diabetic and heart patients should be careful and consult a specialist immediately in case of chest pain.
– People, especially those residing in nearby vicinity of demolished towers, are advised to wear mask on stepping out of their houses. At home they may use air purifiers with Hepa filters and vacuum cleaners with Hepa filters.
MEASURES TO PREVENT HEART ATTACK, LUNG PROBLEMS IN VULNERABLE GROUP AFTER DEMOLITION
Dr Chandra shares tips to prevent heart and lung issues in people post demolition:
– First thing is to avoid exposure, by remaining indoors, and keeping the windows, tightly closed.
– Wear proper masks.
– Surgical masks, available commonly are not designed to filter out particles, are loose fitting, and allow particles of all sizes to enter the respiratory tract. It is the N-95 masks which filter 95% of particles as small as 0.3 µm in diameter, and therefore should filter out most of the dust particles. However, these masks can be expensive and most must be discarded after 8 hours of use.
– Air purifiers also hold promise as a health intervention for dust events. A high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can remove 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 µm; it may be possible for them to be used in high-risk households, but they would be cost-prohibitive for many people. Less expensive, non-HEPA air purifiers may be effective in dust storms.
– Finally, the susceptible groups, should inculcate healthy life style to strengthen their heart health. Like, proper exercise, at least 30 min a day, reducing fats and carbs from their diet, reducing weight, stopping smoking and strict control of blood sugar and cholesterol.