Experts believe that more people die from poisoning with carcinogenic gases as a result of rocket hits than from the hits themselves.
They told how to protect themselves from toxic emissions and what important aspects need to be taken into account during post-war reconstruction, reports Rubryka.
Russian troops do not stop actively and massively shelling Ukrainian cities and destroying urban infrastructure, which will have consequences in the future.
- Destruction and overloading of infrastructure
Urban warfare destroys residential buildings and the vital infrastructure that keeps cities functioning. This can lead to a lack of safe drinking water, electricity to power homes, businesses and hospitals.
A Red Cross report found that during protracted armed conflicts in cities, problems arise largely from the dependence of large-scale interconnected infrastructures on the availability of skilled personnel to ensure service delivery.
"During explosions, absolutely everything is destroyed. After hitting the building, the projectile scatters fragments, destroying everything around. Not only residential infrastructure objects suffer from the destruction of communications, but also strategic objects that provide vital activity. Accordingly, issues arise with water supply, electricity, sewage, and everything else," explained the head of the Urban crew, volunteer Vlad Samoilenko.
Damage to the infrastructure can lead to the spread of infections, deterioration of the epidemiological situation in the city. In addition, trenches and explosions destroy green spaces important for air purification.
"The city becomes uninhabitable, and everyone flees from it. When more than 50% of the critical infrastructure that provides water supply and sewerage is destroyed, it is impossible to stay in such cities," Samoilenko said.
- Effects of air pollution after fires
When rockets hit, toxic emissions are produced, from which everyone who is near the place of impact and the resulting fire suffer. Such damage can have a long-term effect and even lead to chemical poisoning.
Thus, during a large-scale fire in the shopping mall in Kremenchuk, plastic burned, synthetic building materials melted, and as a result, air quality in the city seriously deteriorated - this was the conclusion of the experts of the environmental community "Clean Air of Ukraine".
The AirFreshMax air quality monitoring station in the village of Vlasivka, located 15 km from Kremenchuk, recorded a strong and sharp deterioration of air quality for at least 4 hours on June 27. There was an abnormal increase in combustion products - nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and partly ammonia.
The damage from rocket attacks and the fires caused by them is colossal and caused by a combination of many factors at once:
- Large fires are accompanied by emissions of fine dust
When there were missile attacks in Kyiv, public monitoring stations clearly recorded a sharp spike in the amount of such dust in the air for an hour or two," said Maksym Soroka, an expert on environmental monitoring and measurement.
High concentrations of such dust cause illness or lead to deaths, because such pollution has a negative effect on health even at very low concentrations.
- Emissions from warehouse fires are similar to emissions from burning oil depots
This trend was noticed during warehouse fires in Kyiv. A large amount of organic substances and black carbon, as well as nitrogen dioxide, entered the air.
Soroka noted that during the tragedy at the shopping center in Kremenchuk, many people suffered not so much from the damage of the rocket itself, but as much from poisoning as a result of combustion.
- The danger of insulated buildings
Dangerous polystyrene foam was used to insulate the buildings, during the burning of which a large number of polycyclic compounds and hydrocyanic acid are released.
"In terms of toxic properties, hydrocyanic acid can be compared to potassium cyanide. People suffocate from the inside," said Soroka.
When a rocket causes a large fire, a person under the rubble loses the chance to be saved due to lack of oxygen and poisoning by combustion products.
- Risk occurs during and after a fire
Specialists monitoring the monitoring stations noticed that when the fire burns out after the fire is extinguished, it turns into a secondary source of ash emissions, in particular toxic ones. Any wind will lift it up again and blow it into the air.
- How to protect yourself after a missile strike and a fire within 3 days
The next two days after each fire, the air will be very polluted, then the concentration of harmful substances will decrease for 3-4 days.
At this time, in order to protect yourself from the toxic effects of combustion products on the body, you must follow the following recommendations:
- In the first time after the fire, it is worth closing the windows and turning on the air humidifier, because water particles in the air will catch pollutants and dust and settle on the floor. Then carry out wet cleaning.
- Avoid walking in the fresh air.
- Do not approach the place of combustion, because the products of combustion continue to be blown by the wind and spread in the surface layer of the atmosphere.
- Maintain the cleanliness of the premises. Black carbon, which is a product of combustion, is highly toxic and can settle as ordinary dust on all surfaces. To avoid its harmful effects, wet cleaning is necessary.
- Drink more water.
If you feel unwell, you should consult a doctor.
- How to find out about the state of the air
Information about the state of the air in this or that city can be found on the websites of the ecology departments of regional state administrations.
- Environmental sustainability of cities
The consequences of urban warfare, in addition to the destruction of infrastructure, included hunger, malnutrition, poverty, infectious diseases, poor hygiene, pests, and overexploitation of local natural resources. In some cities, hunting and gathering became important. Sometimes residents had to move to the countryside to be able to find or grow food. The wartime urbanization of the countryside and urbanization of the cities allowed nature to gradually take over the cities.
The destruction of cities in some cases after the Second World War led to ecological progress.
Samoilenko believes that in order to create an ecologically sustainable city, as well as to make it safe for residents, it is necessary to build houses, roads, any infrastructure from those materials that emit less toxic substances.
After all, even in peacetime, a balcony lined with plastic lining or a facade made of plastic elements releases dangerous elements when heated. Therefore, it is better to give preference to natural materials, as well as bricks and concrete. It is also necessary to increase the number of green spaces, because they can save a person from a fragment and become a shelter.
Another important point is the arrangement of bomb shelters and their maintenance in proper condition. Currently, many residential buildings are being built even without parking lots.
Earlier, EcoPoliic wrote, that in Ukraine, within 4 months of the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Russian troops inflicted land and air damage in the amount of almost 254.3 billion hryvnias.
As EcoPolitic reported earlier, the head of the Ministry of Environment, Ruslan Strilets, said that Lithuania would help Ukraine in reconstruction of buildings destroyed by the war and other destruction waste.