More than 150 innocent people have lost their lives, more than 5,000 have been physically injured and many more are dealing with the mental and economic injury that this devastating explosion has caused. In addition to these injuries, reports are coming in about this Beirut explosion causing hearing damage to many inhabitants living in the city.
A fire, coupled with gross negligence, ignited the more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate. The explosion that could be felt more than 100 miles away on the island of Cyprus. The explosion created seismic waves equivalent to a 3.3 magnitude earthquake according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
From the pictures, videos, and reports, it is clear to see the decimation this explosion has caused. With hospitals already dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, they are overwhelmed and at full capacity tending to victims and patients with “visible injuries.” We must remember that it is just as important to get checked at a hospital or by a physician in these situations, even if you only felt the shockwaves or heard the blast. The air in Beirut and the surrounding areas are also likely to be toxic and wearing a mask is highly advised.
“Ammonium nitrate is a major industrial chemical with two principal uses – as fertiliser and as an explosive. Explosions are typically detonations that cause huge damage due to the supersonic shockwave, which is clearly visible in the videos. The orange plume above the explosion site is due to nitrogen dioxide, the toxic air pollution gas, and is a tell-tale sign of a nitrate-based explosion. This is a catastrophic regulatory failure because regulations on the storage of ammonium nitrate are typically very clear.”
– Andrea Sella, a professor of inorganic chemistry at University College London
It’s much easier to see burns, cuts, and other “visible injuries,” but there are many potential “invisible injuries” ranging from organ and lung damage to hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear).
Although there are more “visible catastrophic injuries,” we should not ignore the others that can have both short and long term effects on our physical and mental health. These types of explosions and traumatic events can cause PTSD, hearing loss, tinnitus and lead to isolation and depression. Yet these injuries aren’t visible and often get overlooked in the wake of an explosion that causes so much “visible damage.”
Comments From Reddit Users
Below are just a few of the instances where Redditors expressed their issues with hearing and tinnitus. Although tinnitus and hearing loss can be temporary in some instances, however, this loud, powerful and devastating explosion was certainly loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus.
“Shocked, heartbroken, and hopeless. Ears still ringing from the blast. Friends and family injured. I don’t know how Lebanon is going to cope with this trauma and move on. The whole explosion was like an out of body experience that keeps playing over and over in my head.”
– Redditor: Zanbakh
Still feeling some ringing in my right ear. Thankfully we had left all our windows open prior to leaving the house, and we had passed next to the blast site just 15 minutes prior to the explosion. I can’t imagine what would have happened had I left the house 15 minutes after I did… – Redditor: U-want-sum-bep
…and my dad can’t hear with an ear. They were living something like 1 kilometer away from the explosion. Me and my father were going straight to their apartment just to find out that… still shocked. – Redditor: Vladu99
…Their brother delivers pizzas and was most probably out on a scooter when the explosion happened…Also their father has lost his hearing. They said it should come back in a few hours but so far nothing. – Redditor: Heisenchef
Hearing loss and tinnitus, although invisible to others, is more than just an inconvenience. It can cause short and long term social, mental and physical issues. We recommend that you seek the advice of a hearing care professional if you are experiencing or suspect that you may be experiencing hearing loss or tinnitus to learn how to best manage it before it becomes a more serious health concern.
We’ve included links to several resources that may be helpful.
United States Geological Survey
Air Quality News