December 06, 2019
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    High-risk groups cautioned against air pollution

    November 13, 2019

    The air in Colombo is polluted and there is no mask that can prevent inhailing polluted air. Therefore individuals in high-risk categories such as pregnant mothers, infants, children, the elderly, should take an extra precaution against such pollution, Consultant Community Physician attached to the Environmental and Occupational Health Unit of the Health Ministry, Dr. Inoka Suraweera said. Patients suffering from various other respiratory diseases, people who work in open air such as traffic police officers, and labourers are also among the high-risk groups, she said.

    Addressing a press conference at the Health Promotion Bureau in Colombo Friday, she said that people, especially those in high-risk categories, should avoid being in the open air as much as possible. PM 2.5 is a silent killer and causes short-term health problems such as wheezing, asthma, catarrh, itchy eyes, allergies and upper respiratory tract infections.

    Dr. Suraweera said air pollution can cause long-term health problems such as stroke, heart attacks, lung cancer, pre-mature births, low-weight births, and decreased sperm quality and the number of deaths due to those factors increase. Air pollution affects children’s mental and physical development and development of their lungs. A recent US study has revealed that there is a direct connection between autism and air pollution.

    Air pollution is extremely high in some places in Colombo such as Maradana. There are specific towns around Colombo city such as Nugegoda with high air pollution, she said.The Director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Unit of the Health Ministry, Dr. Thilak Siriwardhana said that one-fourth of the deaths caused due to strokes and heart attacks are due to air pollution. Burning is the main way that air is polluted.

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