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1.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 18233, 2022 Oct 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2096801

ABSTRACT

Vegetation fires are common in South/Southeast Asian (SA/SEA) countries. However, very few studies focused on vegetation fires and the changes during the COVID as compared to pre-pandemic. This study fills an information gap and reports total fire incidences, total burnt area, type of vegetation burnt, and total particulate matter emission variations in SA/SEA during COVID-2020 and pre-pandemic (2012-2019). Results from the short-term 2020-COVID versus 2019-non-COVID year showed a decline in fire counts varying from - 2.88 to 79.43% in S/SEA. The exceptions in South Asia include Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, with a 152% and 4.9% increase, and Cambodia and Myanmar in Southeast Asia, with an 11.1% and 8.5% increase in fire counts in the 2020-COVID year. The burnt area decline for 2020 compared to 2019 varied from - 0.8% to 92% for South/Southeast Asian countries, with most burning in agricultural landscapes than forests. Several patches in S/SEA showed a decrease in fires for the 2020 pandemic year compared to long term 2012-2020 pre-pandemic record, with Z scores greater or less than two denoting statistical significance. However, on a country scale, the results were not statistically significant in both S/SEA, with Z scores ranging from - 0.24 to - 1, although most countries experienced a decrease in fire counts. The associated mean TPM emissions declined from ~ 2.31 Tg (0.73stdev) during 2012-2019 to 2.0 (0.65stdev)Tg in 2020 in South Asia and 6.83 (0.70stdev)Tg during 2012-2019 to 5.71 (0.69 stdev)Tg in 2020 for South East Asian countries. The study highlights variations in fires and emissions useful for fire management and mitigation.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Fires , Humans , Pandemics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Forests , Asia, Southeastern/epidemiology
2.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 8320, 2022 05 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1931472

ABSTRACT

Wildfire management in the US relies on a complex nationwide network of shared resources that are allocated based on regional need. While this network bolsters firefighting capacity, it may also provide pathways for transmission of infectious diseases between fire sites. In this manuscript, we review a first attempt at building an epidemiological model adapted to the interconnected fire system, with the aims of supporting prevention and mitigation efforts along with understanding potential impacts to workforce capacity. Specifically, we developed an agent-based model of COVID-19 built on historical wildland fire assignments using detailed dispatch data from 2016-2018, which form a network of firefighters dispersed spatially and temporally across the US. We used this model to simulate SARS-CoV-2 transmission under several intervention scenarios including vaccination and social distancing. We found vaccination and social distancing are effective at reducing transmission at fire incidents. Under a scenario assuming High Compliance with recommended mitigations (including vaccination), infection rates, number of outbreaks, and worker days missed are effectively negligible, suggesting the recommended interventions could successfully mitigate the risk of cascading infections between fires. Under a contrasting Low Compliance scenario, it is possible for cascading outbreaks to emerge leading to relatively high numbers of worker days missed. As the model was built in 2021 before the emergence of the Delta and Omicron variants, the modeled viral parameters and isolation/quarantine policies may have less relevance to 2022, but nevertheless underscore the importance of following basic prevention and mitigation guidance. This work could set the foundation for future modeling efforts focused on mitigating spread of infectious disease at wildland fire incidents to manage both the health of fire personnel and system capacity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Fires , Wildfires , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Workforce
3.
Med Leg J ; 90(3): 147-151, 2022 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1877511

ABSTRACT

An Air India Express Flight AI1344 travelling from Dubai to Calicut (Kozhikode), when attempting to land, unfortunately, overshot the runway and crashed causing many casualties as the impact caused the aircraft to break up into multiple pieces. The response to a disaster, specifically an aviation disaster, is highly complex. It involves multiple government agencies and calls for a truly inter/multidisciplinary response from diverse domains including forensic experts, fire experts, aeronautical engineers, humanitarian experts who must together form an ideal post-rescue recovery team. The author was intricately involved in the recovery mission launched after the above air disaster. This case study considers the process of collecting and managing the personal effects of those affected along with the various challenges involved.


Subject(s)
Accidents, Aviation , Disasters , Fires , Forensic Medicine , Humans , India
4.
Integr Environ Assess Manag ; 17(6): 1162-1167, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1872160

ABSTRACT

Fire has long been a part of the Australian environment and remains a potent force in shaping the adaptations of species, the dynamics of populations, and the structure of ecological communities. However, the fire regime is changing. Fire seasons are longer, wet vegetation types that do not usually burn are now at risk, and fire intensity and severity are greater than in the recent past. A particularly widespread event occurred in the forest and woodland regions of Australia over the summer of 2019-2020. Termed the "Black Summer" bushfires, remotely sensed data indicate that over 30 million hectares of vegetation were burned, including an unprecedented large area of forest. The extraordinary geographical scale of the Black Summer fires, including the intensity and speed of fire spread, has led to widespread concern about the ecological damage that occurred. Recent estimates suggest that almost three billion vertebrates and up to 240 trillion invertebrates were affected by the fires. Fires were experienced in part of the geographical ranges of 832 vertebrate species and 37 threatened ecological communities, with some of these entities feared to be at risk of extinction. Field assessments of ecological recovery have been slowed by COVID-19 restrictions and by a diminution in ecological monitoring capacity that occurred before the last fire season. This paper assesses the dire ecological consequences of the Black Summer bushfires and proposes a series of steps to help achieve recovery of biodiversity and mitigate the effects of future mega-fires. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2021;17:1162-1167. © 2021 SETAC.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Fires , Animals , Australia , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Seasons
5.
Bioessays ; 43(9): e2100046, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1756555

ABSTRACT

Air pollution is a major global challenge for a multitude of reasons. As a specific concern, there is now compelling evidence demonstrating a causal relationship between exposure to airborne pollutants and the onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD). As such, reducing air pollution as a means to decrease cardiovascular morbidity and mortality should be a global health priority. This review provides an overview of the cardiovascular effects of air pollution and uses two major events of 2020-the Australian bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic lockdown-to illustrate the relationship between air pollution and CVD. The bushfires highlight the substantial human and economic costs associated with elevations in air pollution. Conversely, the COVID-19-related lockdowns demonstrated that stringent measures are effective at reducing airborne pollutants, which in turn resulted in a potential reduction in cardiovascular events. Perhaps one positive to come out of 2020 will be the recognition that tough measures are effective at reducing air pollution and that these measures have the potential to stop thousands of deaths from CVD.


Subject(s)
Air Pollution , COVID-19 , Cardiovascular Diseases , Fires , Air Pollution/adverse effects , Australia/epidemiology , Cardiovascular Diseases/epidemiology , Cardiovascular Diseases/etiology , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Pandemics , Particulate Matter/analysis
6.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(5)2022 03 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1736925

ABSTRACT

The Calluna vulgaris L. that dominated coastal heathlands of Western Europe were for millennia managed by regular burning cycles for improved grazing. Most places in Norway this practice has, however, been neglected over the last 5-7 decades, resulting in accumulation of above ground biomass including degenerated Calluna and successional fire-prone species, e.g., native juniper (Juniperus communis) and exotic blacklisted Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). Today, in dry periods, the heathland represents a fire threat to the increasing number of homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), as exemplified by the June 2021 Sotra Island WUI fire. The fire burned 700 ha of encroached heathlands, destroyed three buildings, and threatened settlements. In the present study, the Sotra fire was investigated to understand the fire development and analyse possible risk reducing measures. Photographic material obtained during the fire, weather conditions prior to and during the fire, involved fire fuel, fire spread mechanisms, firefighting response, and possible consequences under slightly changed circumstances were analysed. Compared to previous fires in coastal Norway, the Sotra fire represents a step change in fire development including, e.g., pyrocumulus-like clouds, fire whirls, and fire spread 270 m across a fjord. Preventive measures based on the local context are analysed, including engaging voluntary communities to remove fire-prone fuel, e.g., juniper and Sitka, to create defensible space. Moreover, strategic fire breaks in the terrain, e.g., well-managed heathland strengthening existing fuel breaks, e.g., lakes, cultivated fields, naked rock, and roads, are recommended. Mechanical cutting is suggested as a short-term measure while fenceless grazing may represent a long-term solution to prevent regrowth. During a period of record high energy prices, this may provide free of charge firewood and make way for future local food production, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while reducing the fire risk.


Subject(s)
Fires , Juniperus , Wildfires , Biomass , Conservation of Natural Resources/methods
10.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 18(19)2021 Oct 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1457652

ABSTRACT

The spatial and temporal behavior of the occurrence of forest fires in Chile was evaluated in the presence of COVID-19 and mobility restrictions. The fire period from 2015-2016 to 2020-2021 was considered and statistics on mobility restrictions were granted by the Government of Chile. The analysis was developed at different scales of geographic perception. At the national and regional levels, the global behavior of the occurrence was determined, and later at the communal level, the political territorial unit, to determine internal variations attributable to the mobility dynamics in the quarantine period. In the process, the meteorological background of the fire activity was also considered. The results indicate that it is possible to rule out a meteorological effect, based on the variation of the moisture content of fine fuel. There was also no statistical association between the humidity of the fuel and the variation in the occurrence of fires. It is concluded that the communes that presented the greatest mobility of people before the pandemic were those that obtained the greatest reduction in fires. The variation in mobility, the product of restriction measures, is a statistical predictor of the increase or decrease in fires.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Fires , Wildfires , Chile/epidemiology , Forests , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
11.
J Community Psychol ; 49(7): 2532-2547, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305130

ABSTRACT

People experiencing homelessness during the 2017-2018 California wildfires faced significant risks of disruption. Homeless service organizations (HSOs) are an essential safety net for this population. To learn about how HSOs performed during the wildfires, this study interviewed U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) staff overseeing HSOs providing transitional housing under the VA's Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program to Veterans experiencing homelessness. We employed a comparative case study approach exploring GPD organizations' disaster response actions, including evacuating Veterans from wildfire-affected areas or taking in disaster-displaced Veterans. This article presents three themes in the GPD organizations' disaster response: (1) Organizations benefitted from close collaboration and communication with the VA during the disaster, creating a safety net to ensure Veterans' well-being and enact rapid re-housing to prevent homelessness; (2) Organization staff performed heroically under stressful disaster conditions; and (3) Organizations benefitted from the written disaster plans that VA requires them to create, but were not as well-prepared for wildfires as they had been for earthquakes. As emergent threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and a very active 2020 hurricane season amplify the importance of mitigating risks, comprehensive disaster planning is needed to ensure the safety and support of people experiencing homelessness.


Subject(s)
Disasters , Fires , Homeless Persons , California , Disaster Planning , Emergency Shelter , Humans , United States , United States Department of Veterans Affairs , Veterans
14.
Rofo ; 193(11): 1336-1338, 2021 Nov.
Article in German | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1266012

Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Fires , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
15.
Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol ; 64(2): 158-160, 2021 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1263978
16.
Int J Pharm Pract ; 29(2): 186-188, 2021 Mar 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1137966

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: The nation was recovering from the aftermath of the catastrophic 2019-2020 bushfires when the first cases of the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in Australia. During the peak of the pandemic, Australia closed both its state and international borders to all travelers and interstate travel was very tightly regulated. Community pharmacists and pharmacy staff were one of the very few primary healthcare workers still serving their communities during these periods of strict lockdown. In this personal view article, the challenges and their toll on the mental health and wellbeing of these "essential workers" are described. KEY FINDINGS: Community pharmacists and pharmacy staff were under immense pressure to remain open and serve their communities amidst rapidly changing legislation and, at times, conflicting advice from the range of Australian health agencies. Rapid changes to workload and workflow were combined with the dilemma of balancing professional obligations with the personal duty of keeping themselves and their sometimes geographically distant families safe. Fluctuating demands and traumatic situations found community pharmacy staff often feeling distressed and underprepared. SUMMARY: Despite a global pandemic following a season of extraordinary bushfires, it has barely been acknowledged that community pharmacy staff are one of the highest risk groups for long-term psychological impacts. To our knowledge, very little research has addressed the toll of these cataclysmic events on this group of essential healthcare workers.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/psychology , Fires , Mental Health/trends , Pandemics , Pharmacies , Pharmacists , Australia , Community Pharmacy Services , Health Personnel , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Psychological Distress , Workflow , Workload
17.
G Ital Med Lav Ergon ; 42(4): 225-230, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1085883

ABSTRACT

SUMMARY: The presence of nanoparticles in the environment is mainly attributed to outdoor sources but sub-10 nm particles may also form indoor as effect of domestic activities such as cooking, heating, air freshening. Today, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are staying home for longer periods of times, thus being exposed to a poor indoor air quality. Due to elevated numerical concentration and large surface area, the health effect of sub-10 nm particles can go beyond what expected from their low mass concentration in the atmosphere. The objective of this study is to find, based on analysis of recent in vitro studies, a dose-effect correlation based on particle size/surface more than on particle mass. Such a correlation cold be useful to assess the health effects of people exposed to very low mass doses of nanoparticles either indoor or outdoor.


Subject(s)
Air Pollutants/analysis , Air Pollution, Indoor/analysis , Cytotoxins/analysis , Nanoparticles , Cytotoxins/administration & dosage , Fires
18.
S Afr Med J ; 111(1): 17-19, 2020 12 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1067957

ABSTRACT

Illuminating paraffin (kerosene) is the primary cooking fuel for approximately two million South Africans. The highly flammable and toxic fuel is burnt in poorly made stoves that are prone to malfunction and are associated with accidental fires, burns and household air pollution. However, the fuel continues to be used as it is easily decanted, widely available in neighbourhood outlets, perceived as affordable, and often the only available option for low-income urban settlements. It is anticipated that increased and enforced home congestion during COVID-19 lockdowns will exacerbate exposure of homebound families to unsafe energy, especially during the cold winter months. Based on an accumulation of evidence on the health and socioeconomic impacts of paraffin, this article advocates for its expedited phase-out and substitution with safer energy.


Subject(s)
Air Pollution/statistics & numerical data , Burns/epidemiology , Fires/statistics & numerical data , Kerosene/adverse effects , Public Policy , Accidents, Home/economics , Accidents, Home/statistics & numerical data , Air Pollution/economics , Burns/economics , Burns/etiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control , Cooking , Economic Factors , Electric Power Supplies , Fires/economics , Fuel Oils , Household Articles , Humans , Kerosene/poisoning , Paraffin , Poisoning , Poverty , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology , Urban Population
19.
Environ Pollut ; 274: 116498, 2021 Apr 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1056590

ABSTRACT

Poor air quality is an emerging problem in Australia primarily due to ozone pollution events and lengthening and more severe wildfire seasons. A significant deterioration in air quality was experienced in Australia's most populous cities, Melbourne and Sydney, as a result of fires during the so-called Black Summer which ran from November 2019 through to February 2020. Following this period, social, mobility and economic restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic were implemented in Australia. We quantify the air quality impact of these contrasting periods in the south-eastern states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) using a meteorological normalisation approach. A Random Forest (RF) machine learning algorithm was used to compute baseline time series' of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide CO and particulate matter with diameter < 2.5 µm (PM2.5), based on a 19 year, detrended training dataset. Across Victorian sites, large increases in CO (188%), PM2.5 (322%) and ozone (22%) were observed over the RF prediction in January 2020. In NSW, smaller pollutant increases above the RF prediction were seen (CO 58%, PM2.5 80%, ozone 19%). This can be partly explained by the RF predictions being high compared to the mean of previous months, due to high temperatures and strong wind speeds, highlighting the importance of meteorological normalisation in attributing pollution changes to specific events. From the daily observation-RF prediction differences we estimated 249.8 (95% CI: 156.6-343.) excess deaths and 3490.0 (95% CI 1325.9-5653.5) additional hospitalisations were likely as a result of PM2.5 and O3 exposure in Victoria and NSW. During April 2019, when COVID-19 restrictions were in place, on average NO2 decreased by 21.5 and 8% in Victoria and NSW respectively. O3 and PM2.5 remained effectively unchanged in Victoria on average but increased by 20 and 24% in NSW respectively, supporting the suggestion that community mobility reduced more in Victoria than NSW. Overall the air quality change during the COVID-19 lockdown had a negligible impact on the calculated health outcomes.


Subject(s)
Air Pollutants , Air Pollution , COVID-19 , Fires , Air Pollutants/analysis , Air Pollution/analysis , Cities , Communicable Disease Control , Environmental Monitoring , Humans , New South Wales , Pandemics , Particulate Matter/analysis , SARS-CoV-2 , Seasons , Victoria
20.
Health Commun ; 36(1): 50-58, 2021 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-917579

ABSTRACT

Metaphors have been widely used in communication about the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus has been described, for example, as an "enemy" to be "beaten," a "tsunami" on health services and even as "glitter" that "gets everywhere." This paper discusses different metaphors for the pandemic, and explains why they are used and why they matter. War metaphors are considered first, as they were particularly frequent and controversial at the beginning of the pandemic. An overview of alternative metaphors is then provided, drawing from the "#ReframeCovid" crowd-sourced multilingual collection of metaphors for Covid-19. Finally, based on both the #ReframeCovid collection and a systematic analysis of a large corpus of news articles in English, it is suggested that Fire metaphors are particularly appropriate and versatile in communication about different aspects of the pandemic, including contagion and different public health measures aimed at reducing it.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Health Communication/methods , Metaphor , Armed Conflicts , Fires , Humans , Natural Disasters , Pandemics , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2
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