Burning plastic makes mega-fires even more toxic

Amsterdam, 07 January 2020 – The health risks of mega-fires such as those in Australia are worsened by the toxins released from burning plastic. The harmful particles in the air are barely avoidable for residents, even those who stay indoors, as the fires create plumes of smoke and smog that cover the cities.

Burning organic material such as wood leads to an increased concentration of fine dust in the air. Deteriorated air quality due to fires is regularly in the news. Last year, for example, Groningen air was five times worse due to German Easter fires. In India every year it is the farmers who burn down their fields after the rice harvest. This makes New Delhi one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Houses full of plastic

When heat, drought, strong winds and lack of manpower and equipment make fires unstoppable, as is now the case in Australia, not only forests but also countless houses go up in flames. Those houses are full of plastic: mattresses, furniture, carpeting, insulation material, electronics and a whole range of utensils. The gases and substances of burning plastic are toxic and carcinogenic. The fire brigade strongly advises: stay out of the smoke. But sometimes that advice cannot be followed. The mega-fires have long since ceased to be incidents. From Siberia to the Amazon, forests are on fire every year.

Ten cigarettes a day

The higher the concentration of smoke, the greater the chance of harmful effects such as burning eyes and irritated respiratory tract. The Australian air quality assessment service compares inhalation of air to the daily smoking of ten cigarettes compared to half a cigarette under normal conditions. The air of Sydney is currently unhealthier than that of New Delhi!

Photo: Air pollution in Sydney, pedestrian.tv

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