A ban on conventional crackers to keep pollution in check appears to have resulted in fewer burn injuries this Diwali. Four major government hospitals designated for treating severe burn injuries registered a 51% decline in the number of burn-related hospital admissions on Sunday.
There was also an almost 14% decline in the number of mild burn injuries cases on the festive night.
“The main reason, of course, is firecrackers were not available in Delhi. As compared to other years, fewer crackers were burst and so there were fewer injuries,” said Dr RP Narayan, professor of burns and plastics at Safdarjung hospital, the biggest burns centre in a government hospital.
“In fact, most of the serious burn cases, where admission was required for treatment, the patients were from places like Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr in the neighbouring states,” he said.
On the night of Diwali, the hospital received 73 cases of burn injuries in their emergency department, of which 11 people had burns serious enough to need admissions.
According to directions of the Supreme Court, only ‘green crackers’ with 30% less emissions were allowed in Delhi this year for a time period of two hours just like 2018.
In 2017, there had been a complete cracker ban.
Although the move was to cut down on pollution during the winter months, that year Delhi had recorded a steeper drop in the number of cases – a decline of 79% over the year before in these four hospitals.
Apart from the cracker ban, doctors attribute the lowering of cases to increased awareness among people.
“The number of burn cases has been declining over the years. There were times when the hospital received around 400 patients on the day. There are several reasons for this decline, but the main one being the awareness,” said Dr RK Shrivastava, head of the department of burns and plastics at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. He used to work at Safdarjung hospital and has been a plastic surgeon for 28 years now.
“Now, the awareness starts from the school level; children are aware of the consequences of burning crackers and when they are a little older they do not do it themselves,” he said.
Despite the low-polluting crackers, however, people with respiratory ailments landed up in hospitals. The pulmonology clinics roughly recorded an increase of 15% in the number of asthma patients coming in with worsening condition.
“Several of my patients started experiencing breathing difficulties right after midnight and had to come to the hospital today morning with chest pain and breathlessness. They had to be nebulised. The worsening of the symptoms is mainly due to the spike in the pollution levels last night. A high number of patients will keep coming in for the next week or so because the pollution levels are likely to remain high,” said Dr Karan Madan, assistant professor of pulmonary medicine at AIIMS.
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