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Article
June 1992

A Foresight: The Burned Oil Wells in Kuwait

Author Affiliations

Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992;118(6):663. doi:10.1001/archotol.1992.01880060113024
Abstract

To the Editor.—The term London smog was used to describe the combination of smoke and fog with sulfur dioxide. It was instrumental in thousands of deaths in London in 1952.1

Following the Gulf War, the environmental disaster resulting from more than 500 burning oil wells in Kuwait has probably been the worst in the world's history. The fumes from such fires may contain different pollutants such as benzine, formaldehyde, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone. Some of these substances are known to cause damage to the mucous lining of the respiratory tract. During the summer in the Gulf, no fog is visible, but sand-storms, dust, intense sunlight, and humidity dominate the climate. Most of these are known to speed the conversion of sulfur dioxide (SO2) to sulfur trioxide (SO3). The latter has the ability to combine immediately with water vapor to form sulfuric acid

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