Over the past few weeks, residents of different neighborhoods in São Paulo have reported cases of soot in their homes. The phenomenon is not new, but it intensifies with the dry climate and the forest fires. Recently, a large fire occurred in the Juquery State Park, in Franco da Rocha, in the metropolitan region of the capital, created the ash cloud.

But in addition to dirt and pollution, soot can wreak havoc on the human body. O Olhar Digital spoke with Dr. André Nathan Costa, Pulmonologist at Hospital Sírio Libanês, to understand how this could happen.


According to the specialist, the smoke invades the lung and contaminates the lining, causing inflammation. The inflamed tube has a thicker wall, hindering breathing. “The point of this is that this smoke, this remnant, is very pro-inflammatory, it causes inflammation in the nasal passages very easily”, he said.

The situation is even more critical with people who already have lung diseases such as bronchitis and asthma. In these cases, this group already has a weakened respiratory system and the symptoms are potentiated with soot, causing even more damage to the human body. Another concern is with the elderly and children, who are also more susceptible to respiratory problems.

Image: Ylvers (Pixabay)

Symptoms of soot in the human body

However, even those who have no previous disease can suffer from soot. “The symptoms can appear in those who have no previous disease, of course it is usually milder, but it can appear, especially sore throat, dry cough and stuffy nose”, he explains. This all depends on the person's exposure time to the affected location.

Now, in those who already have respiratory diseases the case is more critical and exposure to soot can cause shortness of breath. “Usually those who already have a pre-existing condition are more likely to suffer from it, and may have shortness and breath in severe cases”, completes the doctor.

What to do in case of exposure to soot?

About what to do in case of exposure to soot, the specialist says that the ideal is to try to move away from the exposed area, keep the body hydrated and clean the nasal passages with saline solution.

The procedures are similar to those made to avoid symptoms of lack of moisture in the air. This, in fact, is one of the factors that helps in the spread of fires. The relative humidity of the air reached less than 25% in São Paulo last Monday (23), which helped with the fires.

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