Forest Fires and Climate Change Can Trigger Asthma

forest fires and climate change can trigger asthma
forest fires and climate change can trigger asthma

Climate change is a serious problem for our environmental and public health. Climate change is a major threat to health and can trigger some diseases. Forest fires, which have occurred in our country recently, may cause exacerbation of the symptoms of asthma patients due to bad weather conditions as well as the damage they cause to the ecosystem. Founder of Istanbul Allergy, Allergy and Asthma Association President Prof. Dr. Ahmet Akçay explained in detail the risks posed by climate change and forest fires in allergic diseases and asthma.

Impact of Climate Change on Asthmatics

Climate change is increasing the vulnerability of many forests to wildfires. Forest fires, which have increased recently in our country, have caused the consequences of climate change to be felt. Increasing numbers of wildfires can also contribute to the development of respiratory diseases, including asthma. This is especially important in children because of the small surface area of ​​their lungs. Exposure to only a small amount of wildfire air pollution can have dangerous effects on respiratory health.

Wildfire smoke contains particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and various volatile organic compounds (which are ozone precursors) and can significantly reduce air quality both locally and in downwind areas of fires.

Climate Change Can Trigger Diseases

climate change; will affect air pollution, vector-borne diseases, allergens, water quality, water and food supply, environmental degradation, extreme heat and severe weather. All these changes are a serious threat to health. High temperatures can increase the concentrations of unhealthy air and water pollutants. In addition to these, the environmental consequences of climate change include; heat waves, changes in precipitation (floods and droughts), more intense storms and worsening air quality. Poor air quality is a trigger for asthma, especially in children. In addition, other conditions caused by climate change also play an important role in triggering both asthma and other allergic diseases.

Impact of Climate Change on Asthmatics

Climate change, by directly causing or aggravating pre-existing respiratory diseases; It poses a major threat to respiratory health by increasing exposure to risk factors for respiratory diseases. Climate change increases water and air pollution, which can cause and aggravate chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. Rising temperatures from climate change cause an increase in ground-level ozone, which causes airway inflammation and damages lung tissue. Increasing ground-level ozone can be harmful to people living with asthma. The most vulnerable people to ground-level ozone, especially children; the elderly, people with lung disease, or people who are actively outdoors. Children are at greatest risk for ground-level ozone and are more likely to have asthma than adults.

Pollution can increase asthma symptoms

With the increase of carbon emissions and other pollutants, these gases are trapped in the atmosphere and reduce air quality. Major pollutants including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone, diesel fuel exhaust particles and particulate matter are all known to exacerbate asthma. In addition, pollutants increase the permeability of the respiratory tract and may increase the effects of pollen in susceptible individuals.

Allergens and Pollen

Climate change will potentially lead to both higher pollen concentrations and longer pollen seasons, exposing more people to the health effects of pollen and other allergens. Exposure to stronger amounts of pollen and mold can cause even people who are not currently allergic to develop allergic symptoms. Climate change will potentially lead to changes in precipitation patterns, more frost-free days, warmer seasonal air temperatures, and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Pollen exposure can trigger a variety of allergic reactions, including hay fever symptoms. Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, occurs when allergens such as pollen enter your body and your immune system mistakenly perceives them as a threat. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include sneezing, runny nose, and congestion. Pollen exposure can also trigger symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis is inflammation of the lining of the eye due to exposure to allergens such as pollen. Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include red, watery, or itchy eyes.

Those with Asthma May Be More Sensitive to Pollen

People with respiratory diseases such as asthma may be more sensitive to pollen. Exposure to pollen in people with pollen allergy may cause an increase in hospital admissions due to asthma attacks and respiratory diseases.

Increased Rainfall and Flooding May Worse Asthma

Heavy rainfall and rising temperatures can also cause indoor air quality problems. For example, they can cause mold growth indoors, which can lead to worsening respiratory conditions and increased difficulty in achieving adequate asthma control in people with asthma and/or mold allergies. With global warming and climate change comes increased precipitation and flooding, which can cause mold to grow in some areas. Humidity is associated with mold growth, which is known to contribute to the development of asthma and worsening of asthma symptoms. Mold growth increases especially in flood-affected houses. This can cause exacerbation of symptoms in those with asthma.

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