Is the colour of sky in Ludhiana blue or grey? The answer is clearly smoke grey. The way air pollution is engulfing this town, children of Ludhiana probably would never know the clear deep blue sky. Come winter and the sky gets covered with smog making the days dull and dreary.
There is spurt in respiratory problems and majority people start feeling choked. On top of it, the viral fever spreads and makes things worse. The patients of asthama or bronchitis complain worsening of the symptoms.
Year after year it is the same story now. Who is to be blamed for? Is it only the administration who makes law but fails to enforce them? Or is it the people at grass root levels who dispose off the garbage and dry leaves by burning. Often the plastic wastes are burnt alongwith leading to toxic fumes creating suffocation for one and all- whether you live in posh colony or industrial area.
The affluent city of Ludhiana boasts of having maximum number of cars. However the price it pays for it is high level of SO2 and fumes due to automobile exhausts.
While for rest of the world, cigarette smoking is major issue for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) we have in addition to smoking cigarettes or biddis, all these other factors like burning of paddy stubble and other agricultural wastes also lead to high level of pollutants in the air.
“And it is not too late” was the theme of world COPD Day which was on November 14 this year. Unfortunately it was the day after Diwali when the level of noxious gases was at peak due to burning of crackers on the previous night. The theme was chosen to emphasise the meaningful action people can take to improve their respiratory health.
COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is worlds 4th leading killer according to WHO. COPD afflicts some 50 million people around the world and kills mainly 3 million every year. COPD is greatly under diagnosed 25-50% people having COPD don’t know that they have COPD. However a simple test called painless test like Spirometery can determine whether a patient has COPD or not.
Till the people and administration of Ludhiana don’t realise the gravity of the situation and take urgent steps to rectify the above factors, the number of cases with respiratory problems will keep on increasing and coming generation will wonder whether the sky was blue anytime here!
(The author is MD, FCCP, Visiting Senior Consultant, Deptt. Of Pulmonary Medicine, SPS Apollo Hospitals, Ludhiana & ex-Vice Principal and Prof. and Head, Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis, DMC&H, Ludhiana)