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Health risks and warnings to be wary of during the 2024 total solar eclipse

by Yucatan Times
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People in North America is ready for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in early April, but there may be some health risks you should know about.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

People watch solar eclipse using protective lenses in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Dec. 14, 2020. The total solar eclipse was visible in parts of Chile and Argentina. (Photo by Mariano Gabriel Sanchez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A total solar eclipse will be viewable for many Canadians on April 8. Here’s all you need to know, including health risks and how to spot fake solar eclipse glasses. (Photo by Mariano Gabriel Sanchez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Many Canadians are gearing up for a once-in-lifetime experience: On April 8, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada.

While solar eclipses generally occur every 18 months, a large portion of them are out of sight for most Canadians. That’s because the majority of solar eclipses spend roughly 60 per cent of the time over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. That’s why the upcoming total solar eclipse is making headlines, as it’ll spend an extended period of time over several cities. That includes Kingston, Ont., which will have an estimated two-hour period to witness the entirety of the eclipse.

“For one specific city on this planet, eclipses happen roughly every 366 years or so. It’s more than [a] once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Nikhil Arora, a post-doctoral fellow in the department of physics at Queen’s University and the school’s eclipse outreach coordinator, tells Yahoo Canada. That’s because the next total eclipse isn’t expected until August 2044.

While the impending eclipse is undoubtedly exciting, there are some safety concerns and hazards that come with the event — both expected and slightly surprising. Below, read everything you need to know about potential health risks, how to spot fake solar eclipse glasses and more so we can all safely enjoy the total solar eclipse — without any burned retinas.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and Earth. (Photo via Getty Images)
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and Earth. (Photo via Getty Images)

What is a total solar eclipse?

According to NASA, a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the sun and bathing the earth in darkness, as if it’s dawn or dusk.

What are some health risks when it comes to a solar eclipse?

A big event like a solar eclipse often means mass gatherings. It’s a concern Dr. Piotr Oglaza, medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington says the region is taking into consideration when planning for the weekend of the eclipse.

“Any time we are expecting a number of visitors coming into the region for this event, we might see a significant traffic congestion, potentially gridlocks,” Oglaza tells Yahoo Canada.

While a little bit of traffic might seem like a bummer at the most, as Oglaza notes, it can have an impact on people’s health, affecting whether or not locals can access basic supplies.

“Let’s say somebody relies on medication. They may or may not be able to get to the pharmacy because of the traffic congestion,” Oglaza says. “So, there’s some very unique aspects [and] people can prepare for that.”

Despite the fact the eclipse is taking place outdoors, a large number of people concentrated in one area can also increase the risk of both injury and transmission of communicable diseases, like measles or Avian Influenza. Oglaza advises individuals take necessary precautions, like distancing or wearing masks especially when in enclosed spaces, and ensuring they’re up-to-date on vaccines for diseases like measles.

A person wears protective glasses to watch a partial hybrid solar eclipse at Ismail Marzuki Park in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 20, 2023. The hybrid solar eclipse is a unique type of solar eclipse that experiences two phases simultaneously, namely the ring phase and the total phase. (Photo by Eko Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Wearing a mark in an enclosed space, such as areas that might be full of people viewing the eclipse, might be a good idea. (Photo by Eko Siswono Toyudho/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“The transmission is much greater in confined spaces, so being outdoors is probably the safest way of gathering, and so that’s hopefully going to mitigate some of the risk,” Oglaza says. “But if [people] are staying or coming to the community, they might be also congregating indoors before or after the event, depending when they plan to arrive or leave that area.”

TYT Newsroom

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