This Holi, play with a splash of safety
Amid the riot of powdered hues and watery splashes that Holi brings, experts say people should not ignore safety issues as toxic chemical colours could bring on severe skin infections, eye injuries and other problems.
The festival of colours will be celebrated March 8 this year.
“The use of synthetic colours during Holi can cause severe irritation, dermatitis, burning, redness and also in some cases blister formation. It can also lead to irreversible pigmentation,” said Amit Bangia, consultant dermatologist at the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.
“Besides, many water colours have an alkaline base capable of causing temporary blindness and severe injuries. Colours in the form of pastes sometimes have toxic compounds mixed in a base of engine oil or other inferior quality oil,” Bangia added.
Chemical colours have been in vogue for a long time, and the cost-effectiveness and easy availability make them more preferred than natural colours, say experts. But often people are not aware of their harmful effects.
But one can prepare organic colours at home.
“Turmeric can be used for yellow colour. Henna can act as a green colour and dried rose petals can be substituted for red,” Bangia said.
The dangers lie not just in colours. Throwing water-filled balloons can also cause injury if targeted at the eyes or ears.
“The balloons used by children during Holi are most dangerous and can cause blunt eye injury. An injury can lead to the loss of vision or loss of the eye. These are all eye emergencies and should be taken care of as early as possible,” said Nikhil Seth, consultant opthalmologist at the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.
“Eyes are extremely susceptible during Holi because of their strategic place in the body and also because the use of harmful chemicals is known to cause eye irritation,” added Seth.
While the best precaution remains use of natural colours, people are also advised to reduce their hours of playing Holi or take breaks when playing it at a stretch.