CHENNAI : The smog that has engulfed the city for five days now is no longer just a statistics. People in the city have started feeling various levels of health problems due to high levels of air pollution.B Sri Vidya of Saligramam Vadapalani, says she has been sneezing nearly 20 to 30 times a day and having severe cough. She says she has got pain in the ribs because of this. “I am generally allergic to dust, but for the last three days, I have been having severe running nose and I sneeze at least 30 times a day. All this makes you not want to do any work. The doctor has advised me to wear a mask. But, even within the house, I can feel the dust,” she says.
Morning walkers have started skipping their routine jogs and walks fearing air pollution. Residents are sceptic about leaving their main doors and windows open.”I have been jogging for the last seven years and I usually avoid my jogs during Deepavali because of cracker smoke. But, for the last few days, the place I go jogging near Tambaram, I find a thick blanket of smog engulfed. After finishing the job, I found that a layer of dust has formed all over my face. After that I stopped going for the morning jog,” said R Kishan of Tambaram.
G Shiny Cristiana, a second year post graduate student of Madras University, who takes scooter to her college, says she can literally feel the dust entering her nose and mouth as she rides. “I start sneezing even as I am riding. With continuous sneezing, I have developed cold also,” she said.
People whose livelihood are dependent on travelling are the most affected. Food delivery agents are one such. Abhijith Lal, 26, a food delivery executive, whose shift is from 7 pm to 4 am said “I joined the delivery agency recently and since then because of the constant riding and being exposed to dust, I have developed cough in the last couple of days. I have been facing congestion while breathing. Also, our Chennai supervisor at the agency has asked us to wear masks while driving,” he said.
Doctors warn that if the air pollution levels continue to be the same,it could turn dangerous especially for asthmatic patients as it will lead to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. G Kamal, a pediatric pulmonologist at Tamil Nadu Asthma Allergy Research Centre, said, “Air Quality Index hovering at 100-150 causes uneasiness among sensitive patients for which a certified mask is prescribed by doctors. Breathing such poor quality of air leads to inflammation of lungs leading to severe asthma.” He advised that one should cover one’s ears, nose and neck while travelling through such air.
While people feel it is safer in the mornings thinking there will be less pollution, Anthony Bush of Kotturpuram, working in a private company, said, “I work on night shift which ends by 5 am.While getting back home, I take a bus and could see a smog in the mornings and I started developing an itchy throat. Even our bus and cab drivers complain of cough.”
Dangerous to asthmatic patients
Doctors warn that if the air pollution levels continue to be the same,it could turn dangerous especially for asthmatic patients as it will lead to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Breathing poor quality of air leads to inflammation of lungs leading to severe asthma.
We are regularly monitoring the pollution levels and improving network. The five continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations in the city would soon be linked to AQI. Already, Manali station is operational and Perambur is under trial run. Air quality will improve from Monday under the changing meteorological conditionsSenior TNPCB official
Pollution levels in Chennai (Parameter: PM 2.5)
Station Minimum Average Maximum
Manali 306 343 451
Alandur bus depot 41 290 347
Velachery residential area 222 322 374
Manali village 149 223 288