Dust pollution in Delhi is a major concern which may cause several diseases in humans ranging from minor allergies to fatal lung and heart diseases. People are asked to stay indoors and wear masks to prevent the harmful effects of dust pollution.
Doctors strongly recommended wearing masks and staying indoors as the air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR) suddenly deteriorated to severe levels due to a dust storm.
‘Dust storm affects the air quality in Delhi, the National Capital Region (NCR) which may increase the risk of developing several respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and heart diseases. Therefore, people are recommended to stay indoors and wear masks to prevent the harmful effects of dust pollution.’
"For people with respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD) or emphysema even small increases in dust concentration can make their symptoms worse," said R.K. Singal, Principal Consultant and Director, BLK Super Speciality Hospital.
Dust particles small enough to be inhaled may cause irritation of the eyes, coughing, sneezing, hay fever and asthma attacks. Babies, young children, and elderly people are also more likely to develop health problems from long-term exposure to high levels of dust.
The NCR saw a sudden rise in heat and dust brought through winds from Rajasthan, Iran, and Afghanistan. The NCR woke up under the shade of dust with the minimum temperature at 34 degrees Celsius, five notches above the season's average.
High particulate matter (PM) 10 levels in the capital are due to high wind speeds which have brought dust particles from neighboring Rajasthan. The real-time air quality index recorded in South Delhi's R.K. Puram area had breached the 999 level, said Singal.
"Anything above 100 is considered unhealthy by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The average PM 10 levels were over 800 today, over four times the average air pollution recorded this month," he said.
The type and size of a dust particle determines how toxic the dust is and the harmful impact on health is mostly determined by the amount of dust present in the air and how long one is exposed to it.
"These particles usually consist of sand particles, pollens, dust, ash and other fine particles. Dust pollution is a major concern because dust can cause several diseases in humans ranging from minor allergies to fatal lung and heart diseases," said Vikramjeet Singh, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital.
"This is because dust particles can be as tiny as a few micrometers, small enough to enter our respiratory system via our nose. To prevent the effects of dust pollution, it is recommended to wear masks when going out and staying indoors," Singh said.
Dust pollution is caused by deforestation, desertification, construction, mining, dust storms and other natural and man-made processes. Apart from vehicular and industrial emissions, one of the main reasons for air pollution in Delhi-NCR is the construction dust.
People with existing respiratory and heart conditions, including smokers, are at greater risk of developing long-term health problems.
Anyone who regularly experiences shortness of breath or hay fever type symptoms from breathing dust should consult their doctor.