Lockdown measures in the last couple of weeks significantly reduced air pollution levels
in our country. Kolkata people got to breathe fresh air according to the international
standard for a substantial period of time for the first time in the recorded history. Our
city witnessed clear blue sky, lush green trees, and clean water in Ganges with utmost
pleasure. The poisonous haze in the air is gone.
Dr Sanjukta Dutta, Head of Emergency Medicine Department at Fortis
Anandapur said, “We, doctors were surprised to see a huge impact of this pollution free
environment and imposed life style modification in our people. Researchers, doctors
always talk about the importance of fresh air, good food and healthy life. This lockdown
has shown us how pollution free environment and little lifestyle modification can
dramatically change our health status and disease profile.”
People in the city are remarkably healthier and disease-free. Patient of lung diseases like
asthma, COPD are doing extremely well with lesser medication or no medication. Many
are not requiring nebulisation or oxygen support which they had to use regularly. A big
number of patients of hypertension are maintaining normal blood pressure with reduced
medication. Hospitals in the city are receiving significantly lesser number of heart
attacks and stroke patients. During lockdown accident victims are negligible because of
obvious reasons. Social distancing and avoidance of outside food have reduced the
transmission of most infectious diseases. Common airborne diseases like chicken pox,
pneumonia or food and water borne diseases like typhoid, hepatitis, diarrhoea, jaundice
are almost vanished. Kids are not suffering from allergies, breathing problem or
recurrent infections. Elderly people are doing much better than before. Even among the
Covid-19 fear people in the city are living healthier lives.
Unfortunately India tops the world with the highest number of lung ailments and death
from lung diseases. But in the last couple of weeks it had been a dream place for our
asthma, COPD patients. We hardly treated these patients in recent days with
exacerbations of their lung problems. Normally they are the regular visitors of
emergency departments with shortness of breath and infections.
We wish we could beat the Corona and retain this pollution free, disease free Kolkata.
Now lockdown is being lifted slowly. We are seeing increasing number of vehicles with
increasing traffic on the roads. Many are emitting poisonous gases and black fumes.
Industries will soon start pouring untreated effluent and toxic exhausts in the
environment. Uncovered, disorganised construction works will pollute the air with deadly
particulate matters. Road side eateries, charcoal ovens, indiscriminate burning of
garbage will poison the air as well. Above all, recent cyclone, Amphan has killed
thousands of trees and taken off a big part of the green cover of the city.
“I am afraid that we would bounce back to our pre-lockdown state pretty soon, if we are
not careful enough. With the poisonous air to breathe our kids will suffer. Asthma, COPD
patients would start suffocating again and would inhale nebulisers multiple times a day
to stay alive. Heart attacks, strokes, road traffic accidents, infectious diseases, allergic
reactions would be overflowing in emergency rooms and this healthy life would be gone
Together if we can be more responsible and vigilant, if we can take little extra care not
to litter our environment and stop others to do the same, we might be able to ration this
pollution free and disease free environment to a great extent.
I always tell people, don’t just save money for your kids, save their lungs. They should
be alive and healthy to enjoy the money you save”, said Dr Sanjukta Dutta.