Marketing executive Smriti Srivastav, 30, and her family have locked up their Borivli home and left for a week-long trip to London. Srivastav’s Diwali break is her way of escaping the rise in air pollution, which triggers her asthma.
“Many of my patients leave the country during Diwali to avoid the smoke pollution. And, those who cannot afford to go abroad, go to some rural area, where the air is much cleaner and less crackers are burst” said Dr Jalil Parker, chest physician, Lilavati Hospital.
Mumbai, which has more than 10 lakh population suffering from some form of breathing problems, has seen a three-fold increase in asthma and other upper respiratory cases during Diwali in the last five years.
And, asthmatics who cannot leave the city depend on inhalers and medicines. “Air pollution triggers coughing, wheezing and breathlessness even among healthy people,” said Dr Jaising Phadtare, professor of pulmonary diseases, Grant Medical College.
Around 26% of Mumbaikars without any prior history of respiratory ailments develop symptoms of coughing, wheezing and breathlessness during Diwali. With winter setting in, parents should only buy firecrackers that do not emit much smoke. “More and more children are being diagnosed with asthma,” said Dr Mukesh Sanklecha, consulting paediatrician pulmonologist at Bombay Hospital.
Crackers are one of the factors that cause childhood bronchial asthma, particularly among those in the age group of six and 12 years.