Population explosion, industrialization, urbanization and intensive agriculture have caused tremendous damage to our environment. Man’s ignorance of laws of nature and his over-exploitation of natural resources have further aggravated the problem. Fortunately, during the last few years, we have started realizing our past mistakes and begun to make amends to prevent further degradation of our environment..
Bush burning is the act of setting forest, weeds and grasses on fire. Farmers clear farmland in preparation for the planting season. The weed and grasses cleared are often burnt. Forest is a large area of land that thickly covered with trees. The trees naturally grow on their own or are cultivated by man for different purpose mammals’ birds and reptiles make the forest their habitat.
Below are a few problems associated with bush burning:
Increased risk of road traffic accident
The ability of air pollutants, especially particulates, to reduce visibility is well known. The visibility reduction results from light scattering other than obstruction of light. The particles primarily responsible for this effect are quite small in the range of 0.3 to 0.6 micron in diameter.
This reduced visibility can cause road traffic accidents,
Bush burning as it is being studied not only poses health hazard to man alone but also affects the environment in general via the emission of the various pollutants. From the data above, it is glaring that particulates, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen a negligible percentage of oxides of sulphur are the major pollutants of bush burning and they all have various effects on man and his environment, like reduction of visibility by particulate matters, especially during periods of air stagnation and causing some respiratory diseases. Oxides of sulphur and nitrogen are also hazardous as they cause respiratory disorders and irritant respectively.
Smoke has a range of health effects from eye and respiratory tract irritation to serious disorders such as breathing problems, bronchitis, and increased severity of asthma, cancer and premature death. The very fine particles in smoke can go deep into the lungs and fine particles, by themselves or in combination with other air pollutants, can make preexisting diseases of the heart and lungs worse. Where there is short-term exposure to smoke, the particles are the most significant threat to public health. High levels of carbon monoxide are poisonous to humans. However, carbon monoxide arising from smoke events does not usually reach levels that pose a risk to the general population, although firefighters and people with heart disease can be at risk.
Most healthy people, including children, recover quickly from exposure to smoke and do not suffer long-term consequences. However, certain sensitive groups can experience more severe short-term and chronic effects. It appears that the same population groups that are susceptible to particles in cities are also susceptible to particles from biomass burning. These groups are: people with asthma and other respiratory disease, people with cardiovascular disease, children and the elderly. Pregnant women and unborn children are potentially susceptible, given that smoke from biomass burning contains many of the same compounds found in cigarette smoke
The major target of air pollutants is the respiratory system. Air and entrained pollutants enter the body through the throat and nasal cavities and pass to the lung through the trachea. The respiratory system can be damaged by both particulate and gaseous pollutants. Chronic bronchitis, which is a disorder characterized by excessive mucus secretion in the bronchial tubes can result. Also, emphysema, which is the breakdown and destruction of the alveolar walls in the lungs could take take place.
Destruction of the environment
Bush burning can during a windy period extend unintentionally beyond the intended area of the farmer. Bush burning can snow ball into huge bush fires with thee destruction of vegetation and other farms. This can lead to food shortage.
Destruction of homes
Several homes have been destroyed by bush fires rendering occupants of such homes homeless. In developed countries with appropriate emergency responses, Government can easily come to the aid of affected persons.
Alteration of biodiversity
Bush burning affects the animal population of the area sometimes with risk to the health of man. An example the bush rat which is involved in the spread of lassa fever disease. They are normally resident in the bush but with bush burning they move into homes where they could contaminate food with their urine and stool.