Fit WebQoof: Can Camphor Curb Air Pollution?

With Delhi and other parts of the country reeling under pollution, many alternative methods have been touted as the perfect antidote to counter its ill effects. While ginger and amla have long been the top favourites, the latest such claim involves camphor (kapur), and has been made by Sadhavi Khosla on Twitter.

Also Read: Can Eating Tulsi, Amla Reduce Impact of Air Pollution on Health?

Claim: Burning Camphor Can Counter Air Pollution

In a tweet, Sadhavi Khosla, who has about 84000 followers and has written in many prominent media outlets, wrote that wearing a beaded mala (necklace) of camphor with cotton around the neck can help counter air pollution. She also said that by inhaling the aroma of camphor at home, we can help reduce pollution in our homes.

Expert Take

To verify this claim, FIT spoke to Dr. Arvind Kumar, lung surgeon and founder of Lung Care Foundation and here's what he had to say.

Dr. Arvind Kumar, Lung SurgeonWhatever has been stated has no scientific proof in literature. We always go by evidence which has been produced in the form of a scientific study. And having been very active in this field, I am not aware of any scientific study which has shown that wearing a mala of camphor can help pollution.

We also reached out to Dr. Kalyan Banerjee, a homeopathic doctor who has won a Padma Shri for his contribution to medicine. He said that while natural camphor has benefits, its more commonly found synthetic counterparts harm us.

Dr. Kalyan Banerjee, Homeopathic DoctorMost of the camphor is artificial or synthetic, so that will cause more pollution. Natural camphor has good benefits, but the synthetic one, which is more common, should not be used. Camphor also neutralises or makes ineffective homeopathic medicine.

Camphor is used in many Indian households, especially while offering prayers to the Gods. However, owing to its religious significance, its side effects are often overlooked. In fact, as is seen from the tweet above, its benefits are sometimes even exaggerated. However, as a scientist, Dr. Arvind Kumar says he just cannot subscribe to this theory.

Dr. Arvind Kumar, Lung SurgeonIf you burn camphor at home, it releases a huge amount of particulate matter and there is no way that it can be called as protective. if at all it will cause damage. The smoke that comes out of camphor is dark and has huge particulate matter. As a scientist, I just cannot subscribe to this theory

In an earlier video interview to Fit, Dr. Kumar had said that by stopping any source of smoke, we can reduce the level of indoor pollution in our homes.

Dr. Arvind Kumar, Lung SurgeonWe have to look for all sources of smoke. Stop any source of smoke (bear you). If everyday you lit four agarbattis and stopped that, you would've reduced the PM 2.5 level in your house by at least 20%. I've seen that by using a monitor in my own house.

(Delhi is in a public health emergency. The air outside is visibly toxic - how has the hazardous air #pollution impacted you? Write down your #PollutionKaSolution and send it to us at FIT@thequint.com. )

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