The smoke that accompanies forest fires can be very dangerous to health. We take stock with Dr. Le Guillou, pulmonologist.
Temperatures are constantly rising in France and forest fires are multiplying throughout metropolitan France – particularly in Gironde, Dordogne and Sarthe. In this context of heat wave, several thousand French people were evacuated and, in Gironde alone, around 14,300 hectares of territory were burned in the space of a week.
Do you live near an area currently devastated by fire? Be careful: as explained by Dr. Frédéric Le Guillou, pulmonologist and president of the French respiratory health association, the fumes that emanate from forest fires “constitute real toxic cocktails” for health.
“The danger comes from both black smoke and white smokeexplains the specialist. The black smoke contain extremely toxic substances: benzene, cyanide and carbon monoxide, in particular. They can cause asphyxiation and, in the most severe cases, death can occur in the very short term..”
The white smokeon the other hand, pose a longer-term danger: “there are microparticles, that is to say ultra-fine particles: when these are less than 10 microns in size, they can infiltrate lung tissue and cause respiratory problems. And when they measure less than 2.5 microns, they can enter the bloodstream: there is then a risk of thrombosis.“
Forest fires: watch out for signs that may indicate poisoning!
Who are the people at risk? “Babies, infants, pregnant women, the elderly as well as people who suffer from respiratory and/or cardiovascular pathologies (asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, COPD, congestive heart failure, etc.) present a greater risk of complications in case of exposure to smoke from fires“replies Dr. Frédéric Le Guillou. For these populations, the pulmonologist recommends (if possible) removal, until the fire is under control…
I live a few kilometers from a forest fire, what can I do to protect my health? “Close your windows, avoid airing your home as much as possible“advises the specialist. Protective masks against the coronavirus (whether stamped FFP2, surgical or even “homemade”) can also help filter dangerous particles.
“Pay attention to the signs that may indicate the onset of poisoning: skin irritation, itchy nose, itchy and watery eyes, coughing… In the most severe cases, you may notice headaches. head, nausea, or even respiratory and/or cardiovascular distress.“If these signs appear, “rinse your nose and eyes thoroughly with clean water and stay away from the smoke!“
Thanks to Dr. Frédéric Le Guillou, pulmonologist and president of the French Respiratory Health Association.
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