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Photo/Jahangeer Ganaie Photo/Jahangeer Ganaie

Burning of fallen leaves poses health hazards Featured

December  08

As autumn is near about to end, Kashmiri people start to prepare stock to beat chilling winters. People start gathering branches and leaves to burn them so that they can make coals that will keep them warm in chilling winters.

With the commencement of winter whole Valley is covered with toxic haze caused by burning of tree branches and leaves.
The  burning of leaves pollutes the air and causes serious health hazards.

Environmentalists say that smoke generated by a large number of simultaneous leaf fires can cause significant health problems. 
Leaf smoke can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat of healthy adults. But it can be much more harmful to small children, the elderly, and people with asthma or other lung or heart diseases. 
This is because the visible smoke from leaf fires is made up almost entirely of tiny particles that can reach deep into lung tissue and cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath - symptoms that might not occur until several days after exposure to large amounts of leaf smoke.

They further add that besides being an irritant, leaf smoke contains many hazardous chemicals, including carbon monoxide and Benzo(a)pyrene. 
Carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin in the bloodstream and thus reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and lungs. 
So carbon monoxide can be very dangerous for young children with immature lungs, smokers, the elderly, and people with chronic heart or lung diseases. 
Benzo(a)pyrene is known to cause cancer in animals and is believed to be a major factor in lung cancer caused by cigarette smoke and coal tar as well as leaf smoke.

Shabid Ahmed a biology student from university of Kashmir university said that common people  are unaware about the ill effects of burning the leaves and branches of trees, there is need to aware people about the hazards of burning leaves.

He added that simultaneously burning large number of leaves could heavily damage our environment, so government must take steps to stop it.

Waqar Ahmed an orchadist from Pulwama district said that we are bound to burn these tree branches and leaves as we have no alternative available.

If we don't burn these leaves where from we will get charcoal that will keep working our firepots in chilling winter.

He added that we no other option as there remains no electricity for months in winter season.

Health officials say that people mostly elders and  children in this season complain about respiratory problems and most of them are suffering due to burning of these leaves.

Dr Tariq Rasool, a scientist from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKAUST) said that people should not burn these leaves as it is polluting our environment and it is aganist supreme court rules and they must use alternative methods that is decompose these leaves and make fertilizers out of it. 

He added that people must decomse these leaves in composite pits and we are providing them urea sprays that helps in speedy decomposition.
Director environmental sciences SKUAST Mr. Farooq Ahmad lone was not available to comment on the issue despite repeated attempts

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