Can’t Breathe: Fire Pollution

The increase in the amount of solid microparticles in the air is noted by experts. The atmosphere in Corinth was stifling yesterday with smoke from the great fire in Vilya.

For three days, a veil of smoke hung in the sky, which gradually dissipated. The source was an uncontrolled large fire in Viliya, which filled the atmosphere with many suspended particles. The increase in the concentration of microparticles in Athens was significant, but did not reach the tragic levels of early August, when fiery fronts raged on Evia. Although the region of West Attica is closer to Athens in relation to northern Evia, the direction and low intensity of the winds contributed to the effect of total air pollution.

PANACEA research stations in Athens recorded high levels of suspended particulate matter: up to 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) in the previous three days, well above the usual 15 μg / m3 background, but it did not last long. For example, at PANACEA stations in Pefki, Chalandri, Keratsini, Agia Varvara, Tiseio, concentrations above 25 μg / m3 and even 40 μg / m3 were recorded, and there were also explosions above 50 μg / m3.

“Large forest fires can significantly exacerbate air pollution. In Athens, during the fires in Evia, an unprecedented stifling situation was created, which lasted for many days, ”experts say.

Microparticle concentrations were extremely high. For example, on August 4, which was not the worst day, PM10 concentrations reached 120 μg / m3, PM2.5 – 75 μg / m3, and PM1 – 70 μg / m3. They are very high, especially for PM1, which are the finest particles, therefore, the most dangerous particles for penetration into the human body.

Particular attention should be paid by citizens to their health, especially if they are (live) near the front of the fires.

“The concentration of microparticles in these areas is extremely high, and firefighters and volunteers are exposed to enormous, prolonged and repeated exposure. It takes a lot of care, it’s not just the heat load, ”emphasizes Mr. Papayannis, noting with concern that he saw firefighters and people even without masks, although they usually have to wear protective masks.

“The consequences of inhaling microparticles are many. Dizziness and shortness of breath are considered the most short-lived. Ultimately, they act cumulatively, affecting the lungs and the circulatory system, and are also associated with DNA mutations, ”stresses Mr. Papayannis. Therefore, it is necessary to create a system of continuous informing citizens about air quality so that they can plan their activities.

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