Maui, Hawaii, USA, was quickly engulfed by fire on the 8th. The historic seaside town of Lahaina in the northwest of Maui County was “reduced to ashes overnight”. At least 93 people have died so far, and the number of victims is expected to continue to rise. It was the worst wildfire in the United States in more than a century.
U.S. experts: The fire area in Maui, Hawaii is facing a greater threat of secondary disasters
According to a report by CBS on the 12th, American environmental experts said that the fire in Maui, Hawaii may pose a threat to the environment and the health of residents in the affected area. The main problem faced.
Smoke and ash released when wood, plastic, hazardous waste and other construction materials are burned can contain thousands of chemicals, said Andrew Whelton, a professor of civil, environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University in the United States. These smoke and dust particles may pollute soil and water sources, and at the same time be inhaled by humans, posing a direct threat to the health of residents.
In addition, buildings that appear to be structurally safe may contain contaminants that threaten human health. Some polluting gases and particles can enter buildings through cracks, doors, windows, and other entrances, and adhere to walls and surfaces or penetrate fabrics. Experts also said that there are other hazards in residential areas after the fire, such as damaged natural gas installations, electrical wiring and gas pipes that may leak electricity, pollution or leaks.
On the 11th, the Maui County Government issued a water safety warning to Lahaina and other areas affected by the fire. The county government stated that due to the possible release of toxic gases and dust particles from the burning of the fire, it has increased the safety hazard of drinking water. As a result, the government has warned residents to use only bottled water for drinking and cooking and to avoid boiled tap water. Hawaii state health officials are advising residents to wear protective gear, such as masks, gloves and gowns, when viewing the wreckage.
Some environmental experts said that during the fire fighting and debris removal period, pollutants may enter the river with the water flow and eventually flow into the ocean. Lahaina has long been a popular tourist spot on Maui to see turtles, coral and other marine life that is under threat from pollutants from the burning fires and firefighting efforts. Environmental experts said that with the advancement of fire fighting and cleaning work, how to safely dispose of the ruins and harmful substances and avoid secondary harm to residents and the environment will be the main problem facing the disaster area.
Thousands of wildfires still burning in Canada, more than half out of control
On the 12th local time, the latest data from the Canadian Interdepartmental Forest Fire Center showed that as of now, there are still more than a thousand forest fires burning across Canada, and more than half of them are out of control.
According to data from the center’s official website, there have been more than 5,600 forest fires in Canada this year, covering an area of more than 131,000 square kilometers, continuing to break historical records. Among them, the number of fires still burning is 1115, of which 719 are still out of control. Thick smoke spread to New York and other places, covering the city in a yellow haze, and millions of Canadians and Americans were forced to stay indoors.
Smoke from wildfires contains a large amount of toxic gases and particulate matter. The smog contains harmful VOC gases and PM2.5 and other polluting particles, which will seriously endanger human health after inhalation. Therefore, it is especially important to know how to protect yourself and your family to breathe safely when wildfires strike. The following three methods are suitable for most of us.
- Stay at home, close the doors and windows
Don’t want to inhale toxic fumes? The easiest way is to stay behind closed doors and reduce the time spent outdoors. Of course, while “retreating”, you also need to close the doors and windows. This is not just for burglar prevention, it also reduces the amount of smoke that wafts into your home.
This method is simple, easy to operate, and the effect is also very good. Studies have shown that indoor air contains 40% less pollutants than outdoors!
- Wear a mask before going out
In most areas shrouded in wildfire smoke, the greatest threat to respiratory health is PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) brought by the smoke.
But it is not difficult to deal with them. Masks can effectively filter PM2.5 in the air.
N95 masks are one of the best masks for filtering fine particles. When filtering particles larger than 0.3 microns in the air, its capture rate is as high as 95%.
However, the arrival of the new crown epidemic has made the supply of masks less loose. Sometimes, not everyone can buy professional N95 masks. But don’t worry, the effect of medical masks on filtering PM2.5 particles is also very good. A standard medical mask can filter 63% of PM2.5 particles! We also tested the ability of various masks to filter out pollution particles, and the test results were not bad. Wearing a mask to go out is definitely much better than being directly exposed to air full of pollutants!
- turn on the air purifier
Turning on the air purifier can reduce the concentration of pollutant particles and harmful gases, ensuring that you can breathe clean and clean air. If you want to purify PM2.5 particles in wildfire smoke, HEPA filter air purifiers are very practical.
Tight doors and windows can only block 50% of PM2.5 particles, because these particles are very small and can enter the room through the gaps in doors and windows.
But air purifiers can solve these slip through the net. In the case of suitable power, the HEPA filter air purifier can filter 99% of PM2.5 particles! Therefore, when choosing an air purifier, in addition to considering the cost performance, you must also choose a purifier with the right power according to the size of the room.
Post time: Aug-14-2023