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Dust allergies in the wind this winter

AFSHAN YASMEEN
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Infrastructure work, cold cause rise in respiratory troubles

Can't breathe easy: Those living or working close to places where roadworks are on are worst affected by respiratory problems. — Photo: K. Murali Kumar
Can't breathe easy: Those living or working close to places where roadworks are on are worst affected by respiratory problems. — Photo: K. Murali Kumar

As Bangaloreans grapple with the chilly weather and prepare for the worst of this winter season, the dust raised by various ongoing infrastructure projects in the city, especially the work on the metro, has added to their health woes. The high dust content has led to an alarming increase in respiratory ailments, experts say.

According to officials of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), dust pollution is common in winter as reduced humidity dries up the soil surface.

“Dust particles form a visible layer in the air, particularly in the evenings. The density of these dust particles is much higher where construction work is rampant,” says a KSPCB official.

Quoting KSPCB's ambient air quality reports, the official points out that respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in the city's atmosphere have crossed permissible limits.

Rise in ailments

This constant exposure to dust and pollution has resulted in more people suffering from allergies and asthma attacks.

Shashidhar Buggi, director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, says the rise in dust causes respiratory ailments such as dry cough, asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases. “Dust allergy can manifest itself as just sneezing or common allergy which many patients can live with for some years, but it becomes a cause of concern when it turns into wheezing or bronchitis,” he says.

“Worst affected are those who live close to construction sites and the traffic policemen,” he adds.

Pointing out that the number of cases visiting his hospital had increased by five per cent in the last two months, Dr. Buggi says: “As ours is a tertiary care hospital, we usually get only chronic cases. But in the last two months, apart from those who suffer from asthma, we are getting many new patients with no history of respiratory illness.”

H. Paramesh, medical director of Lakeside Medical Centre and Hospital, says the cold weather coupled with dry air and dust is affecting children, especially those prone to respiratory infections.

The number of patients visiting M.S. Ramaiah Medical College and Hospital for pulmonary infections has increased by 15 per cent. “A majority of these are because of dust allergies,” says Mohan Rao, professor and Head of the Department of Pulmonology in the hospital.

“Travelling through the stretch of road where construction work is on causes uneasiness, eventually leading to infections. Those prone to respiratory infections should avoid such roads and take diversions, even if it means a little more distance to be covered,” Dr. Rao adds.

AFSHAN YASMEEN

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