Nearby wildfires increase cancer risk

A new study from McGill University finds higher incidence of lung cancer and brain tumors in people exposed to wildfires. The study, which tracks over 2 million Canadians over a period of 20 years, is the first to examine how proximity to forest fires may influence cancer risk…

Published in The Lancet Planetary Health, the study shows that people living within 50 kilometers of wildfires over the past 10 years had a 10% higher incidence of brain tumors and 4.9% higher incidence of lung cancer than people living further away.

Wildfires typically occur in similar regions each year, and as a result, people living in nearby communities might be exposed to carcinogenic wildfire pollutants on a chronic basis, warn the researchers.

In addition to impacts on air quality, wildfires also pollute aquatic, soil, and indoor environments. While some pollutants return to normal concentrations shortly after the fire has stopped burning, other chemicals might persist in the environment for long periods of time, including heavy metals and hydrocarbons. “Exposure to harmful environmental pollutants might continue beyond the period of active burning through several routes of exposure,” adds Professor Weichenthal

Just being an old geezer, I’ve been staying indoors on detectable “smoke days” during the unusually severe wildfire wildfire patch we’re experiencing this spring. Now, I get to worry even more.

Giant sinkhole has a forest at the bottom

A team of Chinese scientists has discovered a giant new sinkhole with a forest at its bottom…The sinkhole is 630 feet (192 meters) deep, according to the Xinhua news agency, deep enough to just swallow St. Louis’ Gateway Arch. A team of speleologists and spelunkers rappelled into the sinkhole on Friday (May 6), discovering that there are three cave entrances in the chasm, as well as ancient trees 131 feet (40 m) tall, stretching their branches toward the sunlight that filters through the sinkhole entrance.

George Veni (executive director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) in the U.S) said…The discovery is no surprise…because southern China is home to karst topography, a landscape prone to dramatic sinkholes and otherworldly caves. Karst landscapes are formed primarily by the dissolution of bedrock, Veni said. Rainwater, which is slightly acidic, picks up carbon dioxide as it runs through the soil, becoming more acidic. It then trickles, rushes and flows through cracks in the bedrock, slowly widening them into tunnels and voids. Over time, if a cave chamber gets large enough, the ceiling can gradually collapse, opening up huge sinkholes.

Fascinating article. I’m familiar with sinkholes here in the States; but, some of the examples found in southern China are seriously unique.