The smoke in Portugal and Spain, who is to blame

The smoke.

The smoke from Canada’s devastating wildfires has reached Europe, but the Continent’s skies are unlikely to turn orange as happened in North America.

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The bloc’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) said Tuesday that as the fires in Quebec and Ontario have intensified further, they sent a large plume across the Atlantic.

The smoke, Quebec and Ontario.

Ontario and Quebec fires that have forced evacuations of small towns and blocked out the sun in major cities, but a hotter than normal summer is expected to continue fuelling fires across the country.

Nearly 72,000 square kilometres of forest land has burned this year so far, an area nearly four times the size of Lake Ontario.

There are differing reports on the exact record for the most amount of land burned from wildfires in a single year in Canada, but all indexes show this year is rapidly closing in on becoming the worst fire year the country has ever seen.

More than 13,000 square kilometres burned over the last seven days, or on average an area three times the size of the City of Toronto each day.

The majority of fires in April and May were connected to human activities such as campfires. But 70 per cent of the 1,053 fires started since June 1 were caused by lightning strikes.

The smoke arrived in Portugal and Spain on Monday and is expected to sweep across Western Europe and the British Isles until at least Thursday.

The smoke

It is important to note that long-range transport of smoke, such as this episode, tend to occur at higher altitudes where the atmospheric lifetime of air pollutants is longer, which means they are manifested more as hazy skies with red/orange sunsets.

The Canadian fires are off the charts, the agency said, hitting 160 megatons of CO2 since early May. That’s equal to the annual emissions of the Netherlands.

The smoke from forest fires dangerous for humans.

Smoke from forest fires can be extremely hazardous to human health for several reasons. Forest fire smoke contains a mixture of solid and liquid particles, known as particulate matter (PM).

These particles can be very small, measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5), which allows them to penetrate deep into the respiratory system.

When inhaled, these fine particles can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and can also enter the lungs, leading to respiratory problems and reduced lung function.

The smoke, Toxic Compounds.

Forest fire smoke contains various toxic compounds that are released when organic materials burn. These compounds include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and hazardous air pollutants.

Exposure to these toxic substances can cause a range of health effects, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, coughing, shortness of breath, and aggravation of pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis.

Forest fire smoke also contains fine ash and chemicals. These particles can irritate the respiratory system and contribute to the formation of respiratory symptoms.

In addition, the ash can contain heavy metals and other toxic substances, which can have long-term health implications if inhaled or ingested.

The smoke, Ozone Levels.

Forest fire smoke can release large amounts of pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, which can react in the presence of sunlight to form ground-level ozone (smog).

High levels of ozone can cause respiratory distress, particularly for individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma, and can also lead to eye and throat irritation.

Forest fire smoke can travel over long distances, affecting areas far away from the actual fires.

This means that even individuals who are not directly in the vicinity of the fires can be exposed to the harmful effects of the smoke.

It is important to note that the health impacts of forest fire smoke can vary depending on the duration and intensity of exposure, as well as individual susceptibility and underlying health conditions.

Children, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are generally more vulnerable to the adverse effects of smoke exposure.

If you are in an area affected by forest fire smoke, it is advisable to follow local air quality advisories, stay indoors as much as possible, and use air purifiers or filtration systems to minimize exposure.

All The Best!


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