Wildfires change air quality

Jenny Decker RN's picture

Wildfires are common at this time of year, especially in California. Parts of the western United States rage with wildfires other than California. So, listening to air quality warnings are important for those who live near the fires. Near may not mean a block away. Wildfires can even change the air quality several miles away.


Some of the clues that a wildfire is changing the air quality are the spooky orange look to a cloudy day. Sometimes it is difficult to even see to drive. It may seem foggy. Even a sun that is different than normal, such as fluorescent orange or pink can occur. Little white pieces of ash may rain down, almost like snow in some situations. Pay attention to this change in the air quality around you because it can affect your health.

When the weather station states there are air quality warnings due to the wildfires, pay attention. What are they suggesting? Some suggestions may include staying inside all day and not venturing out unless absolutely needed. Even pets should be inside. Schools should keep the children inside for recess. No one should be jogging either.

Health risks from poor air quality due to wildfires can be significant. Health problems due to this may not be detected for several months. The small particulates of smoke stay in the air and the person takes them into their lungs. These will often linger for days, maybe weeks or months before any damage occurs. Air quality advisories are serious and may protect your health.

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