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Explained: Will stubble burning higher the risk of COVID situation in northern states?

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New Delhi, Sep 21: Agricultural-cum-environment expert has said that North Indian states could face a major problem later this month when stubble burning starts ahead of the Rabi crop sowing season.

Stubble buring

According to the expert, large-scale stubble burning can exacerbate the coronavirus crisis in northern states.

"If alternate arrangements to stubble burning are not made, pollutants like particulate matters and toxic gases like Carbon Monoxide and Methane could give rise to severe respiratory problems, which will further worsen the COVID-19 situation, as the coronavirus also impacts the respiratory tract," Sanjeev Nagpal, who is also an advisor to the Union and the Punjab governments on the crop residue management said.

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"Last year, nearly 50,000 cases of stubble burning were reported in Punjab. Stubble burning contributes about 18 to 40 per cent of particulate matter to the atmosphere in northern plains. It also emits large amounts of toxic pollutants like Methane, Carbon Monoxide and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons," he said.

The impact of stubble burning in India's northern states can be seen in often ringing the alarm bells in the past as it led to a sharp rise in pollution levels. However, presently, experts are worried that rising pollution levels may worsen the pandemic.

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According to reports, stubble burning in Haryana and Punjab had contributed to 44 per cent of pollution in Delhi-NCR in 2019.

It may be noted that the rising pollution level in north India could lead to an increase in the low fatality rate. High levels of pollution can make the respiratory functions in human beings weaker besides impacting the immune system.

This could make citizens living in north Indian state more susceptible to the deadly virus, which has already claimed over 86,000 lives in India.

In such a scenario, experts have advised states to not only make alternate arrangements for stubble burning but also ensure that its citizens wear masks while stepping out of the house.

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While the most common symptoms are fever, dry cough and tiredness. The less common symptoms are aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell and a rash on skin.

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    However, the serious symptoms of COVID-19 are difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure and loss of speech or movement.

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