Agricultural Burning Affecting Residents

Agricultural Burning Affecting Residents

03 May 2016

published by

Mexico–A smoky haze from central Mexico is causing major problems for people with allergies.

The weather plays a big part in bringing this haze to the Rio Grande Valley. It’s linked to the agriculture burning happening in Central America.

It’s a recurring problem in the Valley.

“What I have noticed is that… some people are walking in, and I’ve noticed that they’re complaining about throat being itchy, discomfort and stuff like that,” Pablo Aguilar, a Brownsville resident, said.

Aguilar said he’s noticed it’s been a little hazy this past couple days when he walks to class.

According to a local allergist, nasal symptoms intensify with the haze for allergy sufferers.

“Usually they are connected with eye problems, and people who suffer from allergies, suffer from allergic asthma which can cause exacerbations and increased symptoms in general,” Dr. Robert Lekach said.

Dr. Lekach said he’s seen an increase in new patients these past few weeks. He recommends for those who suffer from allergies to stay in a well-ventilated building with A/C.

He also suggested for people to try and not spend long periods of time outside. He said people who suffer from allergies should also try to do their exercise regimen inside.

“Exercise in general exposes you to more intensified exchange of air, so if it will cause more irritation,” Dr. Lekach said.

The National Weather Service in Brownsville tracks the haze every year.

“We had our worst day on March 31. This year, we had several more moderate to unhealthy to sensitive days throughout April,” National Weather Service meteorologist Berry Goldsmith said. “And we’re probably going to see another one coming into the second week of May and probably a couple more beyond that.”

During this time of year, there is a lot of agricultural burning happening in Central America. The burning sends smoke and soot into the atmosphere.

Then, winds coming from the south send it over to Texas where it can reach as far as Dallas. Goldsmith said weather can also keep the haze away.

“When northerly flow comes in, coming from nice, cool dry places, like the Rocky Mountains, it cleans out the air,” Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith said this can sometimes keep air quality good for a few days. He said the agriculture burning typically ends by the end of May.
Tara Singh Sob, 76, of Silgadi feels very strange these days. He had never seen such view of nature ever before. Heavy haze throughout the day in the month of May is what he is finding quite surprising. “Mist was seen in winter morning and evenings. But seeing such mist-like haze during summer is strange, I have never seen this before,” he said.

This year, almost all parts of Doti district are experiencing such uncommon weather. Locals are finding it difficult to carry out their daily activities due to insufficient light even during the day. “It’s very dark all the time. We see sunlight only for a while in day,” said Khadak Bikram Shahi, a businessman from Dipayal. “Though the weather is very hot all the time, we haven’t seen the sun properly for a week now,” he added.

Locals feel that that haze has been due to the recent surge in forest fires in and around the district. Forest fires have been catching up in the region – in the mountain and adjacent Tarai districts. “Perhaps it’s due to smoke released from the forest fires in our and surrounding districts, Narendra Khadka, president of local branch of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) said. “Fire has destroyed most of the forests in the district. You can see literally every forest in the district has been engulfed by fire. It seems that the smoke released from these fires have clouded the atmosphere here,” he said.

The haze has taken toll on public health as well. Locals have been complaining of respiratory problems, headache, irritation in eyes and various skin related problems. Suraj Baldar, assistant doctor at the eye clinic of the District Hospital, informed that numbers of patients visiting the facility has been increasing. “Though we used to see surge in the number of eye patients at this time of the year, this time their number has been quite high, ” he said adding, “The quality of the air has degraded.”

Similarly, Harish Shah, public health monitor at facility pointed that there has been surge in the number of people complaining of respiratory problems. “Even when people are simply sitting or taking rest, they are sneezing time and again. Many find it difficult to breathe,” he said. “Such problem is seen even more in motorcyclists.”

Meanwhile, Min Kumar Aryal, meteorologist in the district said that such atmosphere has been prevalent in most part of the country. “This is not an issue that Doti alone is facing. Other districts are also facing similar circumstances. Forest fire in the western side of the district has worsened air quality here,” he said.

He claims that the haze would subside if it would rain. “Pollution levels in the atmosphere would drop down significantly if it would rain. Normally at this time of year, the district should receive pre-monsoon rain fall. But this year, it has not rained so far. This has escalated pollutant levels in the atmosphere,” he explained. – See more at:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien