Watery eyes, coughing fits, runny nose… Forest fires have enough to worry residents and holidaymakers, especially in the heart of summer. Rightly so, because these fumes, whether white or black, do indeed constitute a toxic cocktail when inhaled.
Symptoms: what are the consequences of exposure to smoke?
If it remains rare, smoke poisoning – white or black – is not insignificant: black smoke contains benzene, cyanide and carbon monoxide, responsible for asphyxiation. The white fumes give off fine particles, as harmful as those of exhaust pipes in the event of prolonged exposure. So many substances that can cause:
- eye irritation;
- cough and chest tightness that lead to difficulty breathing;
- runny nose;
These effects depend on several factors, such as the duration of exposure, the amount of air breathed in, the state of health of each, the concentration of smoke in the air, etc. Of course, the longer the exposure, the greater the risk (decreased lung function, development of chronic lung diseases, cancers, reduced immune defences, confusion, coma, etc.). Prolonged exposure to fine particles can, for example, aggravate certain pre-existing heart and respiratory diseases.
Forest fires: who are the most susceptible to the harmful effects of smoke?
The people with heart or lung conditions (asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart failure, etc.) and heavy smokers are much more exposed to the deleterious effects of smoke. Children, the elderly and pregnant women must also be vigilant. As people who practice a sporting activity or have a physical occupation in the open airbecause they breathe deeper and faster.
- follow the direction of the wind to avoid breathing the fumes as much as possible if you are outside;
- keep windows and doors closed;
- limit outdoor activities;
Smoke poisoning: when to worry?
If the person experiences any of the following symptoms, it is essential to consult a doctor quickly:
- a persistent or worsening cough;
- more shortness of breath than usual;
- chest pain or tightness;
- significant weakness or fatigue.