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Texas Wildfires Leave Children At Risk

Texas Wildfires Leave Children At Risk

 

By Gina Carroll

In the past few days, the Texas Forest Service has responded to 127 fires for 9,205 acres. On September 12th, firefighters responded to 10 new fires on 179 acres. It is currently estimated that 1,939 homes have been destroyed since Labor Day weekend. Largely a result of the current Texas drought, the state is under a siege from epic wildfires that continue to wreak havoc on the environment – our air, land and water.

Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon announced that this was the hottest summer on record for Texas — and the hottest summer ever for any U.S. state, based on preliminary numbers — and last month he declared Texas is in the midst of its worst one-year drought on record.

Coming on the heels of the state’s hottest and driest summer in recorded history, the most destructive human health impact of the fires is not burn injuries – it’s the smoke. Injury from smoke and toxin inhalation may account for as many as 60-80% of fire-related deaths in the United States. In fact, respiratory failure is the most common cause of death in many burn centers. The CDC says the mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plant materials from wildfires can cause all kinds of symptoms in everyone…eye and respiratory irritation, but they can especially exacerbate chronic conditions like heart disease, asthma and chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD). Children are among those who are at the greatest risk for adverse health effects of smoke. Their airways are still developing. They breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults, and children also are more likely to be active outdoors.

The Texas Department of State Health Services warns that children should be kept away from fire debris areas during cleanup, since ash and dust from burned buildings might contain toxic and cancer-causing chemicals including asbestos, arsenic and lead.

Though the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) says they do not expect long-term health effects of the recent and current smoke plumes, the fires’ profound impact on the air (the reason why school athletics are being cancelled and postponed and asthma victims are put on high alert) should remind us of Texas’ already dismal air quality. There are important measures we all need to take to deal with the current wildfire emergency in the short-term. But we must also take action for the protection of our children in the long-term. Texas air quality was a serious problem before the fires, and it will be an even greater health challenge hereafter.

Re-posted from Moms Clean Air Force. Learn more on Facebook.

 

Related Stories:

Back to School: What Asthma Docs Want To Tell You

Asthma and Clean Air: One Mother’s Fight in Texas

Why African Americans Should Care About Clean Air

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57 comments

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10:24AM PST on Jan 12, 2012

Some of us Texans are not perry fans at all. And kenny we are not all racist or homophobic. There are a few intelligent people in this state.

3:39PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

It's time for Texas to realize they must protect their children by providing a better environment to grow up in or they will lose their future.

6:46PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Rick Perry can use those HELEcopters to drag for crispie pigs now, you know, like they drag lakes for bodies. He won't even have to fire up the BBQ. Yeeehaaww! Y'all come!

4:53PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Boo Hoo . Prayer organizer Rick Perrys Texas has burn to a crisp. Maybe if Texas wasnt such a racist homophobic execution crazed state maybe this wouldnt have happened. The god character from the bible does not exist but Karma is alive and well in Texas. I dont feel bad for this people at all.

3:44PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

really sickening.

1:15PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Senet D., did you ever hear this?..."The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Do ya THINK maybe this applies to Tricky Rick? He has been "praying" for rain for a loooong time now. And "God" has sent down his WRATH! Perhaps Mr. Perry should have given a bit more thought to firing most of the FIRE FIGHTERS!! Rick Yeeehaawww Perry's job is to run Texas, not lay around and pray for rain. If prayer WORKS then show me some RAIN!

6:31AM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

We must all pray together that action be taken

6:04AM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

And our government still refuses to acknowlege climate change as a serious issue?

3:20AM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Lilithe I certainly get the sinking feeling too. We still have hope though. I think it's pretty obvious we're in the declining phase as far as being an "empire" or "superpower", but there is still hope to avoid a messy fall, and have a good nation. I just hope we can avoid any fanatic or fascist takeovers. I do worry about what kind of government we will have in 20 or 30 years, economic troubles can lead to people listening to fanatics and religious nuts.

2:24AM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

The sad fact that they elected a Governor who does'nt believe in science does not help the population in getting the care they need to begin with.

Feel bad for those effected by the forces of nature, feel worse that they voted in a Governor that has little knowledge of the care his population will need because of the force of nature.

greed...money...power....these will destroy our planet!

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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