Reading the smoke signals: The long-term consequences of Amazon wildfire on global health

fire amazon

(Denys Argyriou, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Christos Tsagkaris, a fifth-year medical student at the University of Crete. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In the previous days dark clouds overwhelmed the sky of Sao Paulo delivering in a straightforward manner the news about the rainforest on fire. At the same time, Macron tweeted the urgent need of addressing the problem in the global context. In this frame serious health concerns have been expressed. As long as the wildfire lasts, respiratory conditions are on the rise and healthcare facilities are getting overwhelmed with patients suffering from Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. However, Amazon wildfire may also be associated with long-term global health hazards, which are not well known. (1)

Wildfires pose a considerable hazard for juvenile immunity. Back in 2015 researchers from Stanford studied the development and function of T cells, an important component of the immune system in a population of children who have been exposed to Fenso wildfire. Their study suggested that children who inhaled wildfire associated nanoparticles suffered from a T regulatory cells deficit, which may lead to the development of allergies or autoimmune conditions. (2) Studies in monkeys’ populations revealed also alterations in immunity associated genes. Some of these alterations have been transferred to the monkeys’ offspring raising considerable concerns to the extent that such findings apply to people. (3)

Another considerable long-term wildfire related hazard consists of smoke exposure. Smoke exposure is a well-known morbidity and mortality factor affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular system. More than 2000 deaths are attributed to wildfire long-term exposure in the US annually. At the same time, keeping in mind the ecosystem, one can easily understand that flora and fauna is similarly affected. Disturbing the nutrition chain and the aerobiological circles results in poor harvests. Malnutrition and consumption of nutritional toxic microparticles may have a wealth of known and unknown consequences in human health. Although more research is needed in order to define the exact consequences in correlation to the time, distance and particles concentration, the hazards lists is long including cancer and cardiovascular disease among others. (4)

All in all, the Amazon wildfire appears as a global health hazard. Although the level of awareness as far as the aggravation of respiratory conditions is high, the long term consequences of wildfire exposure seems to be kind of neglected. Juvenile immunity and smoke exposure represent the direct effects of wildfire on human health. It is also crucial to keep in mind that human is also indirectly affected by ecosystems’ imbalance.

The smoke signals from the Amazon’s wildfire may soon or later disappear. However, their echoes will reverberate for a long time in the real. Deciphering them will be a painful but definitely necessary challenge.

References

  1. C.Marill, The Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke May Last a Lifetime, Wired.com (Published on June 27, 2019, Accessed on September 1, 2019, Available here)
  2. Prunicki, M. , Kelsey, R. , Lee, J. , Zhou, X. , Smith, E. , Haddad, F. , Wu, J. and Nadeau, K. (2019), The impact of prescribed fire versus wildfire on the immune and cardiovascular systems of children. Allergy. doi:10.1111/all.13825
  3. Black, C., Gerriets, J. E., Fontaine, J. H., Harper, R. W., Kenyon, N. J., Tablin, F., … Miller, L. A. (2017). Early Life Wildfire Smoke Exposure Is Associated with Immune Dysregulation and Lung Function Decrements in Adolescence. American journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology, 56(5), 657–666. doi:10.1165/rcmb.2016-0380OC
  4. The West Isn’t Ready For The Long-term Health Impacts Of Wildfire Smoke, CPR News, Published on June 25 2019, Accessed on September 1, 2019, Available here

About the author

Christos Tsagkaris is a fifth-year medical student at the University of Crete, Faculty of Medicine (Heraklion, Greece). He is affiliated with the Association of European Cancer Leagues as a Youth Ambassador for Greece. He also serves as Editor in Chief of NovelMeds students magazine, and the European Student Think Tank.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Accountability for atrocities in Myanmar ‘cannot be expected’ within its borders – UN investigator

Improving Italy’s capital market will boost growth opportunities for Italian companies and savers

First-ever UN report on disability and development, illustrates inclusion gaps

UN health agency to gauge global threat, as China confirms coronavirus transmission between humans

Security Union: Commission receives mandate to start negotiating international rules for obtaining electronic evidence

The decline of our oceans is accelerating, but it’s not too late to stop it

Did young people just kill television?

Another doomed EU attempt to interfere in Libya?

Frontline workers vaccinated in Uganda over Ebola fears, as top UN officials visit outbreak epicentre in DR Congo

Warmongers ready to chew what is left of social protection spending

Parliament to vote on new European Commission on 27 November

Human rights: breaches in Russia, the Rakhine State and Bahrain

Over 820 million people suffering from hunger; new UN report reveals stubborn realities of ‘immense’ global challenge

We have a space debris problem. Here’s how to solve it

South Korea wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022

5 ways to get your business ready for AI in 2020

Promoting Primary Health Care to the Young Health Workforce: a new approach

Rare diseases are more common than you might think

State aid: France to recover €8.5 million of illegal aid to Ryanair at Montpellier airport

E-cigarettes are killing us softly with their vapor

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Women in peacekeeping, the arrest of Sudan’s leader, updates on Libya, Nigeria and Syria

Ride-hailing apps are making the developing world’s traffic problems worse

Technology is delivering better access to financial services. Here’s how

In a state of war: COVID-19 and psychiatric support

Palestinian students ‘compelled to drop dreams because of financial cuts’

Respond to ‘legitimate grievances’ of Sudanese people, UN human rights experts urge, following protests

European Commission 2020 Work Programme: An ambitious roadmap for a Union that strives for more

We must treat cybersecurity as a public good. Here’s why

Contact the Sting

UN sees progress in fight against tobacco, warns more action needed to help people quit deadly product

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan hit record high – UN

These rules could save humanity from the threat of rogue AI

The Red Cross’s health chief explains how business must respond to coronavirus

How video games can reunite a divided world

Refugee crisis: Commission proposes a new plan urging EU countries to help Italy

Inequality in the delivery of health services

IPCC reports devastating climate consequences; US in denial while EU does not fully support the 2050 net zero emissions target

Reparations for sexual violence in conflict – ‘what survivors want most, yet receive least’

Central America: drought, resulting crop losses threaten food security of two million people, UN warns

EU Parliament: Deposit guarantee and trading platform transparency sought

Why protesters disrupted London Fashion Week

EU budget: Reinforcing Europe’s cultural and creative sectors

This afternoon Britain will be once more isolated from mainland Europe

India can soar in the robot age. This is how

OECD leading multilateral efforts to address tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy

Attempt to defy international law over Golan Heights sovereignty ‘doomed to failure’ Security Council hears

Opening Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU at the Chinese Fashion Night

Fleeing Venezuela: MEPs to probe humanitarian conditions in Colombia and Brazil

Young people are not a nameless, faceless mass. So why do we treat them as such?

Hazy ‘breakthrough’ saves PM May, leaves Ireland in limbo: Brexit

Northern Ireland: Parliament wants to secure post-Brexit regional funding

Deal on protecting workers from exposure to harmful substances

Russia to cut gas supplies again: can the EU get back to growth without a solid energy market?

It’s time for the circular economy to go global – and you can help

China and UK relations post Brexit as EU addresses Chinese takeovers

Hiring is broken. Here’s how to fix it

Discussion at Europe House: Brexit & Food

First do no harm. Why healthcare needs to change

The importance of the strategy of health of a country working in accordance with the theory

Bringing justice to the people: how the UN is helping communities deal with disputes in remote and dangerous areas

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s