Children In Brazil Struggling To Breathe Due To Smoke From Amazon Fires
Smoke from the Amazon fires has caused a rise in the number of children living nearby being treated for respiratory problems, according to reports.
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world, and covers 2.1 million square miles. Because of its sheer size, it is also crucial for storing carbon and helping to reduce the effects of carbon emissions that accelerate climate change - hence its nickname, 'the lungs of the Earth'.
However, this month it has been under threat from wildfires that have ravaged the area - believed to have been started by farmers and loggers in a bid to clear land for agricultural and industrial use.
Along with the damage to the land, children in the surrounding regions are now also having difficulties with their breathing as a result of the smoke coming from the fires.
According to the Associated Press, the number of people treated for respiratory issues has increased sharply at the local Cosme e Damia children's hospital in the past few days.
Elane Diaz, a nurse in the Rondônia state capital of Porto Velho, spoke to AP as she waited at the Hospital 9 de Julho for an appointment for her five-year-old son, Eduardo.
She said: "The kids are affected the most. They're coughing a lot."
Diaz added: "They have problems breathing. I'm concerned because it affects their health."
Daniel Pires, a pediatrician and the hospital's adjunct director also told the Folha de São Paulo newspaper that the number of cases has more than doubled since the early part of the month.
He said: "This period has been very tough.
"The dry weather and the smoke causes many problems for children, such as pneumonia, coughing and secretion."
Many organisations and prominent celebrities have been ploughing money into the cause, with Earth Alliance - an organisation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio - pledging $5 million (£4.1m) to help tackle the blaze.
Group of Seven nations also pledged $20m (£16.4m) for the effort, with a separate $12m (£9.8m) from Britain and $11m (£9m) from Canada.
But some people have said we must realise that this month's huge fires are not in isolation, with the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil saying there have been more than 72,000 fires in the Amazon rainforest this year.
Agronomist Mona Lisa Pereira said: "It seems like this is the fire of a lifetime. But it's not. We have fires every year."
Featured Image Credit: PA