Rk Singal of the BLK Super Speciality Hospital says, " 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". Hence precautions must be taken.
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.
"Anything above 100 is considered unhealthy by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The average PM 10 levels was over 800 today, over four times the average air pollution recorded this month," Mr Singal said.
Dr Vikram Jeet Singh of the Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital said dust pollution can cause fatal lung and heart diseases. He said, "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".
Dr Singh advised people to stay indoors and wear masks. "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," he said.
The doctors said people with existing respiratory and heart conditions, including smokers, were at greater risk of developing long-term health problems. People who experience shortness of breath or hay fever symptoms from breathing dust should consult their doctors.
As a thick blanket of haze and dust enveloped Delhi and parts of the National Capital Region (NCR), the air quality nosedived to the "severe" level. The pollution masks are back and people have been advised to stay at home as the dusty conditions are likely to continue for the next few days. The PM10 level, presence of particles with diameter less than 10mm, was beyond severe at 796 in Delhi-NCR and 830 in Delhi particularly, leading to hazy conditions.
The air quality index (AQI) between 0-50 is considered "Good", 51-100 "Satisfactory", 101-200 "Moderate", 201-300 "Poor", 301-400 "Very Poor", and 401-500 "Severe".