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Ministry of Health and Wellness issues advisory on air quality concerns due to wildfires

Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2024. 8:22 pm CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), in collaboration and the Department of the Environment, has issued a critical warning regarding air quality concerns due to the ongoing wildfires affecting numerous communities in the Toledo and Cayo districts.

These wildfires have triggered a substantial surge in air pollution primarily due to smoke, posing significant health risks, particularly for children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness says that the Government of Belize have affirmed its dedication to ensuring the safety and welfare of all residents in the affected regions and pledges to provide regular updates as the situation progresses.

The Ministry urged all residents to adhere to the safety advisories:

Stay Indoors: Residents are strongly advised to remain indoors whenever possible, especially during periods of heavy smoke.

Keep Windows and Doors Closed: It is crucial to seal living spaces effectively to prevent smoke infiltration.

Use Air Purifiers: Where available, utilize air purifiers to diminish indoor air pollution levels.

Limit Outdoor Activities: Outdoor physical activities should be minimized to reduce exposure to contaminated air.

Seek Medical Attention: Individuals encountering respiratory difficulties are urged to seek prompt medical assistance.

Wear Masks: Wear masks when outdoors in affected areas to filter out fine particles.

In collaboration with the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), the Department of the Environment, and the Ministry of Agriculture, the MoHW sas it is closely monitoring the situation.

Current efforts are focused on controlling the wildfires and mitigating their impact on air quality.

The Ministry says that the DOE is in the process of procuring air quality monitoring equipment to be strategically deployed for detecting changes in ambient air quality. This data will inform our national response and guide further decision-making regarding this matter.

Additionally, farmers in rural communities are urged to immediately halt the practice of lighting illegal fires, as these exacerbate the existing problem.

 

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