Rising temperatures and heat wave conditions in Kerala have resulted in an increasing number of severe sunburn cases being reported in the state.
Since February, over 70 cases of sunburns and 1 case of sunstroke has been reported in the state, according to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP), Kerala.
“Pathanamthitta has been the worst affected district with around 23 cases being reported. 17 cases of sunburn has been reported from Palakkad,” an officer from IDSP told TNM.
Apart from Ernakulam, Kasaragod and Idukki, all other districts in the state have witnessed isolated incidents of sunburns. In Kozhikode, one of the districts which witnessed a heatwave, 12 cases of sunburn has been reported since February, the officer added.
“We are compiling a detailed list of the victims who suffered sunburn. The different cases are being grouped together under the term ‘Heat related adverse events’,” the officer added.
Increase in humidity
According to Fahad Masook, hazard expert at Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, the sudden rise in temperature is also a result of increased humidity in the state.
“When there is lesser humidity, the solar radiation hits the earth and is reflected back as infra red radiation. Humidity absorbs and retains this radiation which is why we experience increased discomfort. This phenomenon is called heat induction,” he says.
Fahad also adds that this year, temperatures rose unexpectedly and the heat wave phenomenon set in quite early.
“In 2012 and 2016, when we saw similar rise in temperature, we only issued warnings by mid March or even April. This year, we saw variations of upto 4 degrees with temperature rising from 34 to 38 and 39 degree celsius starting from February,” he says.
Most sunburn victims are also farm labourers and daily wage workers who were exposed to sun rays during the 12-3 pm window, he added.