play videoplay video

Video duration 02 minutes 58 seconds 02:58

With the continuation of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, the population faces risks as a result of bomb remnants and buildings scattered everywhere in the Strip, which affect the body in general and the respiratory system in particular. Does it include cancer?

On this subject, Al Jazeera Net interviewed Dr. Mohammed Hassan Al-Tarawneh, consultant of chest and respiratory diseases and expert in respiratory infections, and representative of the International European Middle Eastern Medical Association in Jordan.

How does the war affect the health of Gazans?

The Gaza Strip is witnessing the dumping of a huge amount of explosives under Israeli aggression, and this war can leave a toxic environmental impact and cause untold damage to human health.

Violent conflicts cause significant environmental damage, polluting air, water and soil, and harming human health in the long term.

Dr. Mohammed Hassan Al-Tarawneh: White phosphorus has catastrophic effects on the respiratory system, as it leads to burning it and burning the bronchi (Al-Jazeera)

What toxic remnants does the war carry for the Gaza Strip?

Waste includes:

  • Radioactive materials
  • White phosphorus
  • Halogens
  • Heavy metals

How do remnants of war affect the health of Gazans?

Toxic remnants of war can lead to many adverse health effects on humans.

In Vietnam, research suggests a significant increase in the risk of birth defects among children of parents exposed to Agent Orange. In some locations, extremely high levels of dioxins have been found in soil, sediment and foods, as well as in human breast milk and blood.

Agent Orange is a substance used by the Americans in their war with Vietnam that continues to cause children to be born with birth defects, cancers and disabilities.

Between 1962 and 1971, U.S. forces sprayed eighty million liters of Agent Orange, a herbicide and leaf extractor, in a desperate attempt to drive the communist militias out of hiding and deny them food.

In Gaza, high amounts of heavy metals have been identified in mothers and newborns who have been subjected to military attacks. Also in Gaza, birth defects have been linked to exposure to white phosphorus and other bombs containing toxic and carcinogenic metals.

Will we see a rise in cancer rates among Gazans?

Yes, because air pollution due to suspended particles from explosives increases the likelihood of lung cancer.

How does the smoke of bombs and rockets affect the respiratory system?

Shells and rockets contain substances such as gunpowder and explosives, and when they explode and burn, they emit carbon gases that affect the respiratory system.

The bombardment leads to the emission of many gases into the atmosphere, in addition to the collapse of buildings that negatively affect the respiratory system, in addition to the presence of particles and other substances that increase their concentration in the air.

Children are most affected because their respiratory system is in the process of developing and forming and is not complete, so they are vulnerable to respiratory abnormalities and chronic damage related to smoke inhalation, particles and fungi.

Exposure to incendiary substances during shelling destroys the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. The phosphorus bombs dropped by the occupation army on Gaza on several occasions cannot be overlooked.

White phosphorus is part of the internationally banned "incendiary weapons" and is a wax-like chemical, often yellow or densely white, and when this phosphorus reacts with oxygen, it ignites and burns, producing smoke.

This weapon is prohibited by the United Nations under the 1980 Geneva Convention, which prohibits its use as an incendiary weapon against humans and the environment.

The big problem in Gaza is related to thermal damage to the respiratory system, as white phosphorus produces heat that burns the skin and reaches the bone, so it is internationally banned, because it harms the population to unacceptable high degrees.

White phosphorus has catastrophic effects on the respiratory system, as it leads to burning and burning bronchi, and leads to tumors in the pharynx and bronchi, in addition to direct and long-term damage related to the inhalation of high-temperature vapors, which leads to second- and third-degree burns, and causes a great long-term danger no less than the effects of chemical warfare and bombs.

How does breathing rubble caused by the destruction of buildings in Gaza affect the health of Gazans?

The destruction of buildings by shelling causes dust and dust to be emitted from stone and cement, and causes people to inhale fine particles from building materials, leading to respiratory reactions.

There are types of fungi such as Aspergillus found in construction workshops, inhaled by people and harmful to the respiratory system a lot, and may lead to chronic respiratory diseases for high-risk groups, such as patients with chronic diseases.

What respiratory diseases are expected to spread in Gaza?

It seems that the people of Gaza are facing another health risk caused by overcrowding in shelters, hospitals and others, as many respiratory diseases may be transmitted through the air, such as tuberculosis, bacterial and respiratory viral diseases, and they appear due to overcrowding inside closed spaces, in addition to the lack of health care for the displaced in a short time, as a result of the collapse of the health system.

The targeting of health facilities, and the inability of people to reach them, leads to a deterioration in health and increases the likelihood of disease outbreaks.

Pressure waves

The Conflict and Environment Observatory says that when buildings are directly hit by munitions or damaged by pressure waves from explosions, building materials are crushed, generating large amounts of dust.

The dust produced is usually a heterogeneous mixture of materials, such as cement, metals, PCBs, silica, asbestos and other synthetic fibers.

Exposure to these soils can have physical and chemical effects on health. Particulate matter (PM) less than 10 micrometers in size or less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter can pose significant health risks from respiratory diseases and diseases as well as cancer.

The direct effects of exposure to building collapse dust include irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and skin. If dust is inhaled and trapped inside the lungs, exposure to dust can lead to pneumoconiosis, a more serious threat to long-term respiratory health. This disease is usually documented in professional workers who are exposed to airborne dust for long periods of time. However, acute pulmonary dust can occur when there is a significant release of dust over a short period of time.

The observatory adds that COPD can also occur as a result of intense exposure to dust. This poses a long-term health risk to civilians who continue to live in close proximity to conflict-damaged buildings or rubble. COPD diseases can include asthma, bronchitis, emphysema among other respiratory complaints.

Source : Al Jazeera + Agencies + Anadolu Agency