Farm fires add to eye, lung problems: PGIMER study - Hindustan Times
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Farm fires add to eye, lung problems: PGIMER study

By, Chandigarh
Oct 05, 2023 09:12 AM IST

In a questionnaire-based study of 418 participants from Haryana by PGIMER, respondents said among the major health impacts of farm fires were irritation in the eye, with over 75% incidence

Irritation in eyes and throat, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest are among the major health implications caused by crop residue burning, a study by Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has revealed.

According to 22.4% of respondents, smoke released from stubble burning was also responsible for road accidents. (HT File Photo)
According to 22.4% of respondents, smoke released from stubble burning was also responsible for road accidents. (HT File Photo)

In a questionnaire-based study of 418 participants from Haryana, respondents said among the major health impacts were irritation in the eye, with over 75% incidence. Over 57% respondents reported itchy/irritated throat. According to 22.4% of respondents, smoke released from stubble burning was also responsible for road accidents.

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Despite claims of the Punjab government to curb stubble burning, farm fires from September 15 to October 2 have increased by 66% compared to the same period last year, data from the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC) shows.

According to the data, 456 farm fires were reported in this period as compared to 275 in the corresponding period last year.

Agriculture experts attribute this to delay in harvesting of short-duration paddy varieties after rains in September. Officials said as the sowing of vegetables was delayed, farmers in the Majha belt of the state took to burning even the waste of basmati residue to avoid losses.

According to Dr Ravindra Khaiwal, an environmental expert from department of community medicine and School of Public Health, PGIMER, open burning of agricultural residue adversely impacts climate, air quality and public health. In view of this, the study examines the public and farmers’ perceptions about farm fires and their health implications in Haryana.

While 56.1% of respondents identified as male, the others were identified as female. Similar results were observed in a study conducted in 2020, where 11% of the respondents said they faced discomfort during period when farm fires are prevalent.

Many respondents (33.1%) reported that overall air quality in their area remained good during the non-burning period. The study revealed that majority of farmers believe that burning crop waste was economically viable and took fewer management efforts.

The study suggested that happy seeders were the most preferred option and the 10,000 per acre compensation also helped in curbing stubble burning.

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