09/13/2021 at 12:25 PM CEST
The Sierra Bermeja forest fire, in the Malaga town of Ronda, continues unstoppable. According to the latest data, since last Wednesday the flames have already calcined 7,400 hectares in a perimeter of 85 kilometers. And there are already six municipalities evicted, with more than 2,600 people outside their homes.
The consequences of forest fires on the environment are devastating. The direct effects affect the loss of animals, the vegetation of the area and, above all, the degradation of the soil. However, there are also indirect consequences: soil erosion, water pollution and landslides.
It may interest you: Smoke from forest fires increases the risk of premature births
Beyond the consequences on the rural environment, forest fires have a lot to do with our health.
Smoke, which is made up of a mixture of gases and fine particles, can cause health problems that will be more intense in people with chronic diseases. Fine particles, precisely, are the greatest threat to our health.
The small particles, the most harmful
Microscopic particles can enter the lungs and cause, among other symptoms, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, from eye irritation to a runny nose.
Already warned by the World Health Organization (WHO) with the fires that affected European countries such as Albania, Greece or Italy, and that it is extensible to the devastating fire in Malaga, “it is a health risk because vegetation fires generate Toxic air pollutants in the form of gases and particles. ‘
“The effects of smoke range from irritation to the eyes and airways to more serious conditions such as reduced lung function, bronchitis, exacerbation of asthma and premature death.”
However, they not only pose a risk to the health of affected neighbors, but also to communities, says the WHO: “Greater exposure to air pollution over longer distances with longer-term effects.”
Cardiovascular and respiratory impact
“The particles are able to penetrate deep into the pulmonary conduits and enter the bloodstream, causing mainly cardiovascular and respiratory impacts,” adds the World Health Organization.
Worse, how do we know that smoke is affecting us?
High concentrations of smoke, even miles away, can negatively affect us and trigger a series of symptoms:
Irritation in the eyes, rhinorrhea (runny nose), cough or shortness of breath.In the case of chronic, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, smoke can worsen symptoms: chest discomfort, palpitations, fatigue or wheezing -sounds that occur during breathing.
But the chronically ill are not the only ones who suffer – with greater impact – the consequences of forest fires. Children, because their respiratory systems are still developing, are more prone to asthma. Also pregnant women, since smoke has adverse effects on both the mother and the fetus.
For this reason, says the WHO, “during these episodes of high pollution, all people, especially those at risk, children and the elderly, should stay indoors as much as possible and avoid direct ventilation with the outside air. . Tune in with local emergency services for any relocation or evacuation instructions.