Respiratory problems — particularly among children and the elderly — have increased among Brazilians as fires in the Amazon have caused lingering smoke in the residential areas near the forest cover. Diseases like pneumonia, coughing, and secretions are spreading rapidly with the natives.
Elane Diaz, a nurse in the Rondonia state capital of Porto Velho, said that the kids are affected the most and are coughing a lot. Expressing her concern over children's health, she added that the kids have breathing problems. Her own 5-year-old son was at the city's hospital. Similarly, the number of people treated for respiratory issues increased sharply in recent days at the local Cosme-e-Damia Children's hospital.
Daniel Pires, a pediatrician, and the hospital's adjunct-director told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that the period is very tough as the dry weather and smoke is causing many problems in children such as pneumonia, coughing, and secretion. Quoting the number of affected children, the doctor said that the median (number) of cases was about 120 to 130 from August 1 to 10 but it went up to 280 cases from August 11 to 20.
The world's largest rainforest is considered a critical defense against rising temperatures and other disruptions caused by climate change and it is a major absorber of Carbon Dioxide. The Amazonian state of Rondonia had earlier warned that the burning of land can produce smoke that can greatly influence atmospheric pollution, putting the lives of many at risk. Residents can suffer from rhinitis, sinus and respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis, while chronic exposure can also lead to pulmonary illnesses, including lung emphysema when exposed to smoke, experts had said.
Fears grew over the health impact as the number of fires in Brazil surged, with more than 77,000 documented by the country's National Space Research Institute in the last year. The rise in breathing-related ailments has also brought attention to the issue. Growing acrimony between Brazil and European countries now seeking to help fight Amazon fires and protect a region seen as vital to the health of the planet has done so as well, with G-7 nations pledging to help fight the flames and protect the rainforest by offering $20 million, in addition to a separate $12 million from Britain and $11 million from Canada.
On the other hand, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has questioned whether offers of international aid mask a plot to exploit Amazon's resources and weaken Brazilian growth. The President said that his French counterpart President Emmanuel Macron had called him a liar and would have to apologize before Brazil considers accepting rainforest aid. But for now, more immediate consequences of the raging flames were becoming clear.
(With AP inputs)