‘Heavy metals in urine samples post-Diwali’

States study done by Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health in 2017

High level of heavy metals, including lead, was found in the urine samples of many patients due to direct or indirect exposure to firecrackers post Diwali last year, the Central pollution Control Board said.

Heavy metals can pose serious health threats. Heavy metal toxicity can damage central nervous, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems.

A study conducted by the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health in 2017, on direction of the CPCB, stated that there was excessive watering, redness and burning sensation in the eyes after Diwali among the sample groups.

The study was made public on Wednesday this year by the CPCB in compliance with the Supreme Court order that directed it to publish on its website all studies since 2010 relating to ill-effects of pollution on the health of citizens. The study includes interviews of 470 subjects for the post-Dusshera period and 787 subjects in the post-Diwali period in Pitampura, Kotla, Siri Fort and Parivesh Bhawan.

20 hospitals surveyed

Of the 20 hospitals surveyed, there was an increase in admissions during the post-diwali period in 10 hospitals. The families of the subjects were interviewed by a specifically designed questionnaire taking into account the respiratory, skin, ear, eye and other relevant symptoms. The study showed that there was evidence of increased levels of lead, barium and strontium in the urine samples of many of the subjects.

“These are some of the metals used in firecracker manufacturing. Increased levels in urine do reflect a probability of exposure. However, all other elements [present in crackers] are not increased to substantiate the effect of bursting of fire crackers,” the study stated, adding that it is also possible that the individuals were exposed to bursting of firecrackers directly or indirectly.

Lead affects the central nervous system in humans. Young children can suffer mental retardation and semi-permanent brain damage by exposure to lead. High level of barium in urine was above the permissible limits in all the four areas of Pitampura, Kotla, Siri Fort and Parivesh Bhawan. “The level of lead in urine was above permissible limit in Siri Fort area. The level of strontium in urine was above permissible limit in four out of ten samples in Siri Fort and Parivesh Bhawan. Other areas also showed high lead and strontium levels,” the study said.

There was a 20% increase in admission at four hospitals, with stroke-related symptoms after Diwali and a 40% increase due to cardiac problems at eight hospitals, the study said. There was a 45%increase in admission due to respiratory problems after Diwali in nine hospitals and a 10% increase due to burns post Dussehra in two hospitals.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:11:57 AM |

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