The Serious Impacts of Wildfire to Human Health
By Space Coast Daily // October 27, 2020
There are several reasons why bushfires occur and in some instances, it can be because of natural causes such as lightning that ignites dry plants and trees. In California, Australia, and Spain, bush fires often spread easily because of difficult wind conditions.
In other cases, bush fires occur because of the negligence of people, particularly in not extinguishing campfires properly, such as those that happened in Haiti and Italy. It is very unfortunate that these bush fires happen because they have serious impacts on human health.
Bush Fires and Smoke
One of the primary reasons why bush fires can be harmful to human health is because the smoke from the fires contains carbon gases, as well as traces of other pollutants such as sulfur and nitrogen dioxide that can be toxic to humans.
These can cause health issues raising anywhere from eye irritation to respiratory tract infection. It can also lead to more serious disorders such as reduced lung function, bronchitis, or even heart failure.
These are all the ailments that can be experienced by the locals living within the vicinity where the bush fire occurred.
Bush Fires and Air Quality
Another reason why bushfires are detrimental to human health is that the smoke from the fires also greatly affects the quality of the air that you breathe.
A few meters from the center of the fires, the air quality index often rises beyond 300, which makes the air quality already hazardous.
The Air Quality table below from comparethemarket.com.au suggests that if you have underlying medical conditions such as asthma, you need to evacuate immediately and head towards a place where the air quality index is already at least lower than 100.
An air quality index of below 100 is the acceptable air quality, although there may still be a risk for people who are sensitive to air pollution.
Factors that Affect Air Quality
Bush fires trigger several factors that affect air quality such as wind speed and direction, as well as temperature.
Wind Speed and Direction
The wind speed and direction can make it difficult for firefighters to put out bushfires immediately.
In this case, as long as there are fires emitting smoke and other pollutants in the air, then the air that you breathe can prove to be hazardous for your health and may lead to long-term effects such as cardiopulmonary disease and cancer. For children, this can even lead to neurological diseases.
Another factor that affects the air quality is temperature because certain chemical reactions that increase air pollutants occur in the atmosphere in hotter temperatures.
Thus, when there are bush fires, then the atmosphere and the environment overall is hotter, which makes it easier for chemical reactions to produce the pollutants which are harmful to human health. This can pave the way for reduced lung function as the tissues in your lungs begin to lose their flexibility, leading to narrow airways.
In conclusion, while the natural causes of bushfires cannot be mitigated entirely, there are several things that you can do to inhibit its man-made causes or help in dealing with climate change. Thus, make sure that you do your part in ensuring that bushfires no longer occur in increasing number and intensity.