White phosphorus bombs are a type of incendiary weapon that has been used in various military conflicts including recent reports of their use by Israel in Lebanon.
Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions in its ongoing military operations in Lebanon, based on verified video and witness accounts.
These bombs contain a chemical element that ignites upon exposure to oxygen, creating a smoky cloud and intense heat. The impact on human health is devastating and multi-faceted.
One of the most immediate effects is severe skin burns. White phosphorus sticks to the skin and can burn down to the bone. The burns are not only excruciatingly painful but also difficult to treat, often requiring specialized medical intervention.
Inhalation of white phosphorus particles can severely damage the respiratory system. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In extreme cases, this can escalate to life-threatening conditions like pulmonary edema.
White phosphorus is highly toxic. If ingested or absorbed into the bloodstream, it can cause liver, kidney, and heart damage. The risk of long-term health issues, including cancer, is also elevated.
The experience of being subjected to a phosphorus attack can lead to significant psychological trauma. Symptoms like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common among survivors.
The open wounds caused by phosphorus burns are susceptible to bacterial infections, which can further complicate the healing process and may lead to sepsis.
If you find yourself in a situation where phosphorus bombs are being used, taking immediate action can be life-saving.
Seek Shelter: Find a building or structure that can provide some protection from the phosphorus particles.
Use Wet Cloth: If exposed, immediately cover the affected area with a wet cloth to cut off the oxygen supply, which can stop the burning process.
Avoid Inhaling Fumes: Use a cloth to cover your nose and mouth to minimize inhalation of toxic fumes.
Seek Medical Help: As soon as it’s safe, seek specialized medical treatment. Phosphorus burns require immediate and specialized care.