- Wildfire smoke is mainly made up of microscopic particulate matter.
- When inhaled, it can go deep inside the lungs and bloodstream.
- Smoke from wildfires can impact air quality thousands of miles away.
Wildfire smoke is linked to a host of medical problems, even in people who are otherwise healthy.
Why is wildfire smoke so bad for us?
-Wildfire smoke is made up mainly of microscopic particulate matter 30 times smaller than the diameter of a strand of hair.
-The particles are made up of things like acids, chemicals, metals, soil and dust from whatever the fire is burning – including vegetation, buildings and vehicles.
-When inhaled, they can go deep inside the lungs and bloodstream.
-Research has shown smoke from wildfires is 10 times more hazardous to humans than similar pollution from other sources.
-The CDC says breathing in wildfire smoke can cause coughing, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and other immediate effects, even in healthy people.
-It can also aggravate chronic heart and lung conditions, increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, damage vital organs and shorten a person’s lifespan.
Weather.com meteorologist Danielle Banks adds:
-“Air quality can be affected hundreds or thousands of miles away from the actual fire.”
-“Small particles of smoke can stay in the air and move through the atmosphere for weeks depending on how long the fires last.”
-“Pets can also be affected by unhealthy air and if possible, should be brought indoors.”
What can you do to protect yourself?
-NOAA says: “The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.”
-For some people, health issues can start with relatively low AQI. The higher the number gets, the worse the effects.
-It may be necessary to stay indoors with windows and doors closed and avoid outdoor activities.
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The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.