With increase in the use of air conditioners at homes, workplaces and cars due to soaring temperatures, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) today said that poorly maintained air conditioners are potentially harmful and pose serious health risks.
President DAK Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement said that poorly maintained air conditioners are breeding grounds for deadly microbes that cause serious illnesses.
“These cooling units provide safe environment for some of the dangerous bacteria like Legionella that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of Pneumonia (lung infection). People contract this infection through contaminated air and manifest with high fever, muscle aches, cough and shortness of breath,” he said.
“Between 5 and 30 % of people who get the disease die and people who are most likely to die are elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. Each year, between 8000 to 18, 000 people in the United States alone are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease,” the DAK statement said.
“Most of the cases in Kashmir go undetected because of lack of awareness and many might be dying undiagnosed as there is no testing facility. Air conditioning units accumulate pollens, mold spores and dust mites that worsen asthma and allergies,” the DAK President added.
He said that these pollutants can make people’s noses clog or run and they can develop breathing difficulty.
“ACs pulls out moisture from the skin and leaves it dry and stretched. Also, skin becomes prone to developing creases and wrinkles which hastens ageing process. AC environment tends to dry out eyes causing irritation, itching and tearing in the eyes,” he cautioned.
Research shows that people who work in air conditioned environment experience chronic headaches and fatigue which leaves them vulnerable to contracting cold, flu and other illnesses, the DAK President said.