Smoke from wildfires in the western United States and Canada covers most of the continent, including the east coast thousands of miles away. And experts say this phenomenon is becoming more common as anthropogenic global warming causes greater and more intense flames.
This week, smoke pollution has reached unhealthy levels in communities from Washington to Washington, DC.
Get used to it, researchers say.
“These fires will burn throughout the summer,” said Dan Jaffe, a wildfire smoke expert at the University of Washington. “In terms of poor air quality, it will be worse than average anywhere in the country this year,” he said.
Growing scientific research points to potential long-term health hazards from inhaling fine particles of smoke.Authorities scrambled to better protect people Harmful effects However, they face the challenge of communicating risk to people living far away from vulnerable communities and burning forests.
Why is it so smokey and how dangerous is it?
Aggressive for decades fire The battle allowed dead trees and other fuels to accumulate in the forest.now Climate change Dry the landscape and make it easier for fires to ignite and spread, even as more people move to areas where fires are more likely to occur.
According to figures provided by the Environmental Protection Agency to the Associated Press, the number of unhealthy air quality days recorded by pollution monitors nationwide in 2021 is more than double the number to date in each of the last two years. Wildfires are likely to be driving most of the increase, officials said.
The amount of smoke emitted by wildfires is directly due to the burning of more than 4,100 square miles (10,600 square kilometers) of land in the United States and more than 4,800 square miles (12,500 square kilometers) in Canada so far in 2021. This is below the 10-year average. At this time of the year for both countries, predictors warn that the situation could worsen as the severe drought that afflicts 85% of the West intensifies.
Wildfire smoke contains hundreds of compounds, many of which can be harmful in large quantities. Health officials use the concentration of smoke particles in the air to measure the severity of the danger to the public.
In the last decade of bad fire, western Inferno has released more than one million tonnes of particles annually, according to a US Forest Office survey.
Scientists have linked smoke exposure to long-term health problems such as decreased lung function, weakened immune systems, and increased incidence of influenza.In the short term, vulnerable people can be hospitalized and sometimes die from excessive smoking, according to doctors and the general public. Health authorities..
Smoke is especially dangerous when the community burns. A 2018 fire in Paradise, California killed 85 people, burned 14,000 homes, and covered a thick plume in Northern California for weeks. Smoke from burning homes and buildings contains more toxic plastics and other manufactured materials, as well as the chemicals stored in the garage.
Where is the fire?
Currently, about 80 large wildfires are burning nationwide, including 19 in Montana. maximum- The Bootleg fire in eastern Oregon has spread to 618 square miles (1,600 square kilometers). It’s half the size of Rhode Island, but it’s been confirmed that less than 200 homes and other structures have been lost due to burning fire in less populated areas.
More than 200 fires have occurred in Manitoba and Ontario, according to Canadian authorities.
The weather pattern and the intensity of the fire determine who hits the smoke. Huge fires generate so much heat that they can create their own clouds that emit smoke into the atmosphere.
“It travels all over the country, spreads slowly, and forms such a haze layer in the sky,” said Miles Bliss, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon.
According to air pollution data, a confluence plume from Canada and the United States settled on the ground after passing through parts of the Midwest this week, crossing a region spanning northeastern Ohio to New England and southern Carolina.
Health effects can occur thousands of miles from the flame. Jeff Pierce, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, says smoke loses its distinct odor, but leaves a potential danger if it drifts far.
“It’s certainly unhealthy,” Pierce said of the recent air along the East Coast. “If you have asthma or any respiratory illness, I would like to consider changing your plans if you go out.”
A recent study by Colorado State University epidemiologist Sheryl Magzamen and Pierce found that people living near the fire were more likely to take preparations and precautions, while those living far away were unknowingly exposed. It remains.
How can I protect myself?
Listen to smoke warnings and, with advice, avoid outdoor activities to reduce exposure. Keep doors and windows closed and air filter to clean the inside. Face masks can protect against smoke breathing. Like COVID-19, the most effective is the N95 mask. This is because it is designed to block the smallest particles.
online, Interactive smoke map Launched last year by the EPA and the US Forest Office on a pilot basis, it has captivated millions of viewers. To reach people faster, authorities use mobile phone push notifications to warn users when large amounts of smoke can flood the community, according to agency spokeswoman Enesta Jones. I am considering it.
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https://phys.org/news/2021-07-wildlife.html Who is at risk as wildlife smoke spreads?