Friday, January 08, 2010


Air pollution or low temperatures, whatever might be the reason, oxygen-starved Bangaloreans are now turning to some oxygen therapy for a burst of fresh air

Air, air everywhere, just not fresh enough to breathe! With temperatures dipping and air pollution rising, it seems to be the common refrain for Bangaloreans who are lapping up oxygen therapy like never before. At least, that is the picture the growing demand for oxygen cylinders paints.
Companies that specialise in the manufacture and supply of oxygen cylinders for industrial purposes are now getting inquiries from ordinary people starving for some clean oxygen. Ramakrishna, a partner with Bangalore Medical Gases said “We receive inquiries from people asking whether we can provide them with oxygen as there is so much air pollution. Where a year back we hardly got any calls, today we get atleast one or two inquiries, once in three months but we do not provide oxygen without a doctor’s prescription.”
According to Ramakrishna, the demand for oxygen services increases at least by 50 per cent during the winter season. Citing an example he said “If we supply 100 cylinders of Oxygen in a month during the summer, it increases to up to 150 cylinders in the months of December, January and February.” He also added that over the past five years there has been an almost 40 per cent increase in patients requiring oxygen therapy, and the main reason attributed to it is the increasing pollution. This is not limited to hospitals alone. Agencies even provide these services at a patient’s residence if the request comes along with the prescription or direction by the doctor.
Nagarajan K N, Manager of Kumar Oxygen Services who specialises in providing oxygen services at patients’ homes said “We get the most number of patients from October to January. And we don’t insist on prescription. If the doctors have told them that it is the only treatment they need, we provide it.”
Even doctors blame the rising pollution for this spurt in demand for oxygen therapy. Dr K R Ravindra, Physician, Srinivasa clinic, Girinagar explained, “The main problem during winter is that because of the cold, the airway of the lungs gets narrowed. This leads to breathing problems in people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems. Acute cases among them require oxygen therapy.” Dr Ravindra felt that the most important factor to be looked into is pollution: “Pollution rates have gone up really high over the years leading to increased respiratory problems and need for oxygen therapy.”
In the market, there are different types of oxygen that come at varying rates. The 10 litre cylinder is called a small cylinder, the 40 litre one is called the big cylinder and then there is the concentrator, an equipment that absorbs the oxygen in the room and delivers it to the patient.
The mobile laboratory of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) that checked the ambient air quality in different parts of the city states that the highest pollution levels were recorded near the Chief Justice’s residence on Palace Road. The different parameters that were considered were: Respirable Suspendable Particulate Matter (RSPM), Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrus Oxide (NOx) and Ozone.The RSPM was much above the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in various parts of the city.


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