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Genset fumes may cause lung cancer

Genset fumes may cause lung cancer

Gensets are all too familiar, they are hard to miss in any market, but what exactly are they pumping into the air?

New Delhi: With constant power cuts over the years, something that we have all gotten used to is the noise, smell and the fumes of portable generators.

But what's the fall-out in terms of health?

Gensets are all too familiar, they're hard to miss in any market, but what exactly are they pumping into the air?

Says Pulmonologist, Dr Nevin Kishore, "The type of pollutants coming out of a diesel generator can be classified as soot or particulate matter, which itself is an irritant. Gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and other such noxious gases are pumped into the air."

So what does this exposure do to the body?

"People who are exposed transiently to diesel generators, are at risk of developing short term symptoms like irritation of the eyes and nose, cough and if they're asthmatic, they could have a full-blown asthma attack. They could also develop chest tightness. Vomiting and light headedness from carbon monoxide are common problems," says Dr Kishore.

If one started getting these symptoms, the best thing to do is to go to some area where the air is fresh and breathe in deep gulpfuls of fresh air.

Prolonged exposure to fumes from these gensets can also result in a higher risk of lung cancer.

And as if the fumes weren't bad enough, one has to struggle to get themselves heard with the constant racket in the background. The noise can damage your hearing, but it's not just physiological - it can even hike up stress levels.

Says psychologist Dr Arpita Anand, "At the emotional level, there might be sleep disturbances, appetite disturbances and lower levels of energy because of decreased ability to deal with stress."

Given the power situation, generators may be a necessary evil. But the best thing you could do for your body, the next time you hear a genset revving up, would be to just walk away.

first published:May 13, 2006, 15:15 IST