Landree L.

How The Fire Affected The Atmosphere- Biology


The fire in the factory on March 7th in northern Florida has affected not only the workers and their families, but the environment. One might not believe that a fire as miniscule as this one would have a large impact on the environment, but they are surely mistaken. A controlled wildfire can be used in beneficial ways such as clearing out a section of land for new construction or even allowing new plant life to grow and prosper. But accidental fires such as the explosion in the factory can have detrimental effects on the environment. They affect the soil on the grounds in which the burn was located, theye affect the plants in the area for a long period of time, if not forever, they can greatly affect humans and animals’ health and also the cleanlyness of the air not only in the area around the fire but for a radius of miles surrounding the burn.

Effect on Soil:


The effect that a fire has on soil, relies solely on the intensity of the fire itself. If a fire is of low intensity, it can actually be beneficial to the soil. The burn returns nutrients for the plants back to the soil to be recycled. As a result of the loss of nitrogen to the atmosphere caused by the burn, the increased nitrogen fixation also caused by the fire helps to make up for that. The layer of soot that coats the soil after a fire clogs the pores of the dirt and shields the soil from rain. The rain clogs those pores with carbon particles that prevents the filtration and aeration of the particles in the soil. If a fire is of high intensity and is not a controlled burn, the fire can ignite the organic molecules found in the soil and cause an even larger, longer lasting fire. It may also change the structure of soil clays. During fires, the mineral properties in soil may be volatized and therefore reducing the beneficial aspects of fertilizers.



Effect on Plants:


 Fires that burn forests burn up the plant life in that area. Getting rid of the native plant species allows for a new invasive species to take over the land. These invasive species of plants tend to be highly flammable which perpetuates constant forest fires in that area and will cause the burn radius to extend, burning up more native plants and trees. An increase of runoff can lead to flash flood which will erode the soil making it  difficult for plants to grow. Furthermore, the ashes and duff from the fire cover the soil and prevent plants from receiving nutrients causing plants to die off and allowing different and possibly invasive species to begin to bloom. The duff covers the soil and is water-resistant. This prevents water from getting to the roots and to the stem, thus, killing the plant. Ashes not only cover the soil but can cover the actual plant. This prevents the necessary amounts of sunlight to reach the plant, preventing photosynthesis. This as well, will kill the plant. Furthermore, if dust and ash are covering a plant, bees and other insects have nothing to pollinate so plant life has a difficult time reproducing in other areas around them. Not only does it affect pollination but when the leaves have an ashy residue covering them, animals cannot eat them resulting in a lack of nutrients and food for the animal and negative health effects from eating the ashes.


Effect on Air:


The smoke from a forest fire can travel a far distance from the actual site of the fire. While this fire travels, it not only affects visibility and can cause ash to get in one’s eyes but it pollutes the air in many ways. It emits carbon monoxide, particulate matter, atmospheric mercury, ozone-forming chemicals and volatile organic compounds. With the ash and compounds in the air, and increase in human’s respiratory issues become more prevalent when a forest fire arises. Particulate matter from these fires linger  in the air and can affect humans and animals greatly. Particulate matter is a mixture of tiny particles of different sizes that enter the air through forest fires or human pollution such as factories or vehicle emissions. Short exposure to these particles can result in the worsening of heart conditions, decreased lung capacity or respiratory symptoms such as throat or eye irritation. Extended exposure to these particles could lead to lung disease, premature birth or low birth weight, impaired lung development in children or even death caused by lung cancer or heart disease.

         In conclusion, large fires such as the one caused in this factory can have a multitude of  negative effects on humans, plants, animals and the ecosystem. It can affect the health and well-being of humans and animals causing short-term or long-term effects on their health or their newborn children’s health. It can wipe out native plants or affect the way that they grow and/or receive nutrients and allow a more invasive, harmful and highly flammable species of plant to grow in it’s place. Fires pollute the air quality by depositing sediments into the atmosphere and the harmful emissions into the atmosphere breaking down the ozone. We can all contribute to the safety of one another and our planet by taking more precautions at work to prevent accidental fires, such as more maintenance checks on machinery, more hazard signs and keeping a keen eye on examining workers and their daily routines. We can also contribute to the human faulted forest fires by not dropping cigarettes on the ground, rather placing them in the designated bins as well as burning things when necssary at night to reduce the surrounding heat. With these few helpful tips and a little cooperation, we can prevent fires much like the one in the factory on March 7th or wildfires that occur every day around the world.


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