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May 17, 2011

Doctor says health risks of smoke inhalation

While it is expected that the smoke shrouding the district will clear up, there are health implications involved. Persons with allergies, asthmas and similar conditions are advised to avoid exposure to the smoke. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The smoke from the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest fires has drifted from Cayo to other districts. This morning the smog covered most of Belize City.  There is a health risk that settled within the mist.

Dr. Fernando Cuellar, Internist/ Intensivist

Fernando Cuellar

“Smoke is a result of indirect combustion of certain substances.  So there are particles in there that can be hazardous. There are certain types of gases for example: Carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide that can directly damage your lungs and cells in your body. It is not just irritating the airwaves or your eyes or your nose or your throat, but it can cause bodily harm because of the pollutants in the smoke itself.”

Even educational institutions are covered in smoke. The Ministry of Education has been closely monitoring the situation. According to Doctor Fernando Cuellar, there should be special monitoring of youths that have allergies and asthma.

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“Male, female, young, old—all of us will feel the effects of smoke would primarily be affecting our respiratory system. We have conditions like allergies which can be worsened. We have things like bronchial asthma that can be triggered because of smoke inhalation. We can also have other problems affecting the airwaves and the lungs because of the smoke.”

Jose Sanchez

“Students in the classroom and in the schoolyard on a hot day like today. Should teachers in particular be concerned what should they look out for?”

Dr. Fernando Cuellar

“Well I think they should be concerned. Unfortunately, we don’t have ea system in Belize that measures air content as such; I know in other cities they have that available. They should be concerned not to have the kids outdoors exposed. If they are kept in the classroom, my suggestion it would be a properly ventilated classroom with the windows opened which they would tend to close so as the smoke not to come in, but let them have the windows opened with fans—perhaps overhead fans or standing fans having a continuous flow of air within that classroom. I think that would be one of the best advices. And use their judgment, use their common sense. If they find outside is foggy and cloudy, maybe they can suspend outdoor activities and maybe insist that the kids get home quickly enough from school. Just keep the eyes moist—you can use these artificial tears—you can buy it over the counter. Make sure you wash it frequently. Perhaps a sunshades can give a level of protection.  And try not to be as exposed a whole lot in the outdoors while conditions like these persist.”

Until the fires can be properly managed, everyone will simply have to find a way to cope.  Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Both the Ministry of Health and Education are monitoring the situation. If you experience respiratory problems, you are advised to increase medications if you’re allergic and if you’re asthmatic double up on use of aerosol or sprays.

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2 Responses for “Doctor says health risks of smoke inhalation”

  1. student_17 says:

    also the dump side that is located between the towns of Benque and San Ignacio should be dealt with cause that causes allot of pollution, and what is worst you can even smell the rotten stuff that is being burned.. so please also monitor this cause its more dangerous for the health just imagine all the stuff that is being burned..

    please Mayors and Ministers do something about it..

    and what is worst we cant burn our own trash, we pay for them to collect our trash and they burn it and all that toxic smoke still affects the villages around it; and this is true … cause the fire men come and turn it off, but if the dump site is burning they don’t do nothing, every morning i reach to my class smelling like a dump site…

  2. cg says:

    they should start monitoring all those fools who burn bushes all over Belize during the dry season too…in ladyville we’ve been breathing horribly with daily burnings. the other day the whole road was block with a big ball of smoke you can’t see the other side for a good distance. ridiculous

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