Even as Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa retracted his earlier announcement banning the sale of firecrackers during Deepavali and urged people to use “green crackers”, doctors and COVID-19 experts say communities should voluntarily refrain from bursting crackers this year in the interest of health.
After Rajasthan, Odisha, West Bengal and Haryana banned the sale of firecrackers during Deepavali, Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar had consulted the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and expert committee. They had batted for a ban and the Health Minister had placed the proposal before the Chief Minister, who announced a ban before calling upon people to use “green crackers”.
Doctors, who said firecrackers can badly impact the health of those who have already been infected and even those who have recovered, asserted that the government should have banned it this year as COVID-19 affects lungs the most.
“However, in the absence of government restrictions, there should be community consciousness and people should be kind to each other by imposing self restrictions,” a doctor said.
V. Ravi, senior professor and head of Neuro Virology at NIMHANS, who is part of the State’s COVID-19 expert committee, said, “It would have been better if a complete ban was imposed. Patients with COVID-19, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease already have swollen and sensitive lungs. Smoke from firecrackers can affect their lungs further.”
C.N. Manjunath, Director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, who is the nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said, “People should refrain from bursting crackers this year, and instead light oil-based lamps. Cracker smoke can generate suspended particulate matter (SPM), which can increase transmission of COVID-19 as well as affect those with other respiratory problems,” he said.
Dr. Manjunath said manufacturers should innovate and manufacture environment-friendly crackers that emit less smoke.
C. Nagaraj, Director of the State-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD), said, “Those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and asthma are more susceptible to COVID-19. Cracker smoke will further aggravate their infection.”
Satyanarayana Mysore, head of the department of pulmonology and respiratory medicine at Manipal Hospitals, said it is known that high PM 2.5 levels in the air are responsible for a rise in respiratory diseases. PM 2.5 refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two-and-a-half microns or less in width. “Particles in the PM 2.5 size range can travel deep into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs,” he said.