Ahead of Chhath Puja on Wednesday, health experts warned the devotees intending to take a dive in the Yamuna river of skin irritation and atopic dermatitis from its toxic foam.
Bathing in the river’s toxic foam can cause drying of skin and severe eczema, Professor and Department Head of Dermatology at the RML Hospital, Dr Kabir Sardana, said.
Ammonia and phosphate levels in the Yamuna river caused by the industrial pollutants, have been rising at an alarming rate leading to the formation of hazardous foam at many places.
Another leading dermatologist, Dr Deepali Bhardwaj said that exposure to this hazardous foam can lead to skin allergies, irritation and many types of skin pigmentation.
She added that those with family history of autoimmune diseases like diabetes and thyroid, can definitely experience this earlier and in varied forms. Also vitiligo or other autoimmune diseases can get triggered from the industrial pollution in the water.
“Skin cancer has also occurred besides common bacterial and viral infections like tuberculosis, viral warts etc. which can spread from one person to another,” she said.
Cancer expert Dr Anshuman Kumar said: “If this water, which has high concentration of ammonia, is swallowed, these chemicals can cause serious damage to the lungs and lead to gastrointestinal problems and diseases like typhoid.”
“Long term exposure to heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic may cause hairfall, conjunctivitis and hormonal imbalances.”
According to the experts, the devotees must take precautions before taking bath in the Yamuna.
“Devotees should apply coconut oil before going into the river as it forms a barrier for some time and can prevent skin irritation,” Dr Sardana said.
“Avoid wearing synthetic clothes as they leach out allergens. Cotton clothes are ideal. Preferably an old dress will do as that leads to less chance of chemical induced allergy,” he advised.