United Kingdom — After the hottest April on record, forest and heathland fires, which could trigger asthma symptoms, are burning in parts of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Erica Evans, an asthma nurse specialist for Asthma UK, said in an e-mail: “We know that air pollution such as smoke can be a trigger for people’s asthma symptoms.
“When wood burns, it emits fine particles combined with toxic agents such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. When these particles are inhaled by someone with asthma, it can cause their airways to become inflamed. Sometimes this can lead to asthma symptoms severe enough to require emergency treatment.”
Asthma UK advice Fires are currently reported to be burning across large parts of the Scottish Highlands; in Swinley Forest, Berkshire; Petworth in West Sussex and at Belmont, Bacup and Ormskirk in Lancashire.
In Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains are still smoking after a blaze which began at the weekend.
With little rain forecast to dampen the fires, Asthma UK recommends that people living close to the blazes should keep their asthma under control by using their usual preventer treatment and keeping their reliever medicine close to hand. Evans says if the reliever doesn’t work as well as usual, or is needed more often, patients should make an appointment to see their doctor or asthma nurse. She says: “Good asthma control can offer protection from smoke and other triggers.”