Forest burning in the Amazon affects everyone’s health

Smoke from fires is harmful because it is made up of a mixture ofgases and fine particlesthat are produced when fires burn. They burn firewood and other organic materials.

They are called fine particles (PM2.5), one of the most dangerous air pollutants: a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that can be emitted directly from natural sources , such as forest fires, or when gases emitted by power plants, industries and automobiles react in the air.

“These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into the lungs. They can cause a range of health problems, from irritated eyes and runny noses to illnesses. chronic heart and lung disease. Exposure to particulate pollution is even linked to premature death,” says a statement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

PM2.5 are particles in the air with a diameter less than 2.5 um. It is generally believed that the black carbon portion of PM2.5 is the most damaging. However, analysis of data carried out by the team in 210 cities in 16 countries between 1999 and 2017 revealed that the risks to human health from air pollution vary depending on the proportion of the different components of PM2.5.

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One of the most dangerous components is ammonium (NH4+). The risk of excess mortality from PM2.5 increased from approximately 0.6 to 1 percent when the proportion of ammonium increased from 1 to 20 percent in the mixture.

This finding comes from the world’s largest analysis of this type, carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom) within the framework of the Multi-City Multi-Country (MCC) Collaborative Research Network, a study published in the journal ‘Epidemiology ‘.

Researchers point out that specific measures in the agricultural and livestock sectors could accelerate the reduction of the negative effects of air pollution on health.

Karen Salamanca. Ministry of Defense

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Particulate matter is a major environmental risk factor to which the Global Burden of Disease attributed between 4.1 and 5 million deaths worldwide in 2017.

“We know that black carbon in fine particles is a major public health concern. However, less is known about ammonium, which is created by chemical reaction of ammonia in the atmosphere and originates primarily from agricultural and livestock practices.By applying advanced statistical techniques to tease out the relative effect of each component, we have revealed that ammonia may be more dangerous than other known components of PM2.5”, explains Pierre Masselot, director of the study.

Particles are a major environmental risk factor to which the Global Burden of Diseases attributed between 4.1 and 5 million deaths worldwide. world in 2017. The evidence for short-term associations between exposure to fine particulate matter and total and cause-specific mortality is well established, although risk varies by location.

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To help To reveal why this variation occurs, the study explores the role of the main chemical components of PM2.5 in this heterogeneity. The team analyzed the main components of PM2.5, such as sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, black carbon, organic carbon, mineral dust and sea salt, and combined them with information on the age of people, GDP, poverty rate, temperature, and green spaces, including street trees and gardens. State-of-the-art statistical methods were used to model specific health effects at multiple locations.

Health risks associated with PM2.5 were found to be independent of the ratio of black carbon to organic carbon and that there was uncertainty about the role of sulfate. Health risks associated with PM2.5 were estimated to be lower in countries where nitrate concentrations were high, such as the UK, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries.

(You may be interested: A study reveals the importance of the longest-living trees in forests)”Our work highlights the importance of ammonium as a harmful pollutant and specific strategies, such as increasing support to the agricultural sector to reduce emissions, could be vital for public health. However, we must remember that all these chemicals are dangerous. Reducing air pollution levels in all sectors will improve health,” says another of those responsible for the work, Antonio Gasparrini.

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Some people are at greater risk

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that it is especially important to pay attention to local air quality reports during a fire if:

– You are a have heart or lung disease, such as heart failure, angina pectoris, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, or asthma.

– You are an older adult, who is more likely to have heart or lung disease than younger people.

– You care for children, including teenagers, because their respiratory systems are still developing, they breathe more air (and air pollution) per pound of body weight than adults, are more likely to be active outdoors, and to have asthma.

– You have diabetes, since you are more likely to have underlying cardiovascular disease.

– You are pregnant, as there may be potential health effects for both you and the growing fetus.

How to tell if smoke is affecting you

High concentrations of Smoke can trigger a number of symptoms.

Anyone can experience burning eyes, runny nose, cough, phlegm, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

If you have heart or lung disease, smoke may worsen symptoms.

People with heart disease may experience chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, or fatigue.

People with lung disease may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as usual and may experience symptoms such as cough, phlegm, chest discomfort, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. breathe.

With information from Europa Press and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).