press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
Delhi is choking, Bengaluru is gasping and Coimbatore has just begun to breathe hard. While heavy rains may throw us into a bit of a bother, there is some cheer as official reports say that there is no cause for worry in the city where air pollution is concerned.
According to an official of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the level of gaseous pollutants and particulate matter is within limits in the city.
The levels have reduced in the city in the recent days, he says. Air pollution is monitored regularly at three locations – Kurichi, Collectorate and Ponnaiahrajapuram.
Despite the reassurances there are very tangible indications that the city cannot breathe that easy. It is not uncommon to see black smoke billowing out of ill-maintained vehicles, many of them belonging to the government.
Doctors say there is a marked rise in respiratory problems. And, many people in the city still think too much of fuss is being made about repeated appeals to segregate their waste.
Not enough people are even thinking about reducing their carbon footprint. Environmental activists worry that stringent measures are called for or else…
K. Manickam is a 40-year-old cobbler who sits on Sanganur Road near the railway crossing. He says he is forced to get up and move away when two-wheeler and four-wheeler users wait for the railway gate to open without switching off their engines. “I find it difficult to breathe sometimes,” says Mr. Manickam.
For bicycle seller R. Rajendran it is a twin assault. He inhales smoke from vehicles that move on the North Coimbatore flyover and also the Cross Cut Road. He cannot decide if it is the smoke of the vehicles or the dust kicked up by them that is the real threat.
He dusts his vehicles three to four times a day and there is still more dust. Mr. Rajendran spends close to eight hours in his shop.
Traffic policemen spend straight seven hours in the midst of traf
fic. It is not just the strain of keeping in check traffic violators that affects them. It is also an assault on their respiratory system from the exposure to dust and smoke.
Many of them complain of breathing problems. A doctor at the Police Hospital says that some of them develop wheezing. The problem increases in winter. A head constable, who serves in Ukkadam, says dust from roads is not so much of a problem for him as the smoke.
Dr. S. Shanthakumar, a pulmonologist (K.G. Hospital), has no hesitation in declaring that there is definitely an increase in the number of patients complaining of breathing problems when compared to say 10 years ago. COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), which is usually prevalent in smokers is now present even in non-smokers. There are recurrent respiratory disorders, frequent attacks of asthma and general incidence of coughs and sore throats.
“In 2010, we conducted a lung function test for traffic police in the city and there was definitely a decrease in their lung function,” he says.
The respiratory system is the first to take a hit when there is pollution in the environment. And children, the elderly and those with diabetes are the most vulnerable.”
From: The Hindu