52 Comments

I'm in Philly, where it smells like a campfire, and looks like a bad glam rock concert full of fake smoke and orange light.

I was swimming outdoors last night before this got worse (PM 2.5 was maybe 130 at the time?) and found myself wheezing, which is not something I've ever felt before outside of infections. Covid test negative, of course, ha! I thought the splashing around of water might help a little with the particulates just above the water surface... not much obviously.

Currently I don't smell smoke when I wear an N95 outside. It absolutely does help, since N/KN95's are designed to filter out 95% of particles 0.3 microns or larger. Better to stay inside and do the other behaviors Dr. Jetelina recommends.

PM 2.5 just hit 279 here. I have such a new appreciation for New Delhi, Shanghai, Mumbai, etc. So awful to live in this sort of poisoned air.

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founding

Me too, speaking from NYC. Fascinating to see folks mask up again, and when I see that, I think, ah! So folks have figured out masks are helpful in a more generalized way. Ryan, I have been particularly thankful to you for putting me on to the CO2 monitor. As I can’t use ventilation via outdoor air while this is happening, what I can do is crank up my Coway air filters. The CO2 monitor is key for me to know when I have the air within a reasonable range. (The Coways are noisy at top speed, so it’s especially good to know when I can turn them down, get some peace and quiet and still breathe.)

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Long sleeves. I learned that the hard way.

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The best map of this, with a forecast, may be the one at https://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/current/

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Thank you so much for this. I have relatives in Nova Scotia that I haven't been able to reach. The map shows that the fires have lessened there.

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Oh wow, that looks awful ...

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I appreciate you posting on this. Why isn’t this more of a public health emergency? There is actually very little guidance on thresholds for keeping kids home from school or daycare, or overall integrated exposure levels. And we know well from Covid about the challenge of putting N95s on toddlers. The west coast has been dealing with increasingly bad air quality for years now, and there is surprisingly little analysis of increased asthma rates, for example. Plus, many schools with no AC have the unfortunate choice of closing up in sweltering heat vs allowing smoky air in, not to mention inadequate filtering. As a society, are we just going to wait for a generation of tiny lungs to be damaged by wildfire smoke before we take action?

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founding

Agree with all this, and want to add, generally, how hard it has been to find even the simplest things. I found nothing but reams of words on state and city Gov sites; news articles were equally opaque. In the end, I think it was from a comment on a thread somewhere, maybe here, that I learned of air now.gov: https://www.airnow.gov/ which gives a quick, easy to use way to check air quality in your vicinity.

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I am wondering about this. Where I live most homes so not have central AC, but many schools do. Is it better to be in a place with AC? What about if kids walk to school?

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THanks. Good information, and wildfire season's been getting longer and more intense over the last several years. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue or accelerate in an El Nino interval after several years of La Nina, which tends to focus on "zonal" or west-east wind (and thus moisture) flows. There's a lot of PM 2.5 literature out there that can be extrapolated to smoke, but as you note, little specifically for wildfire smoke. People with preexisting heart and lung conditions need to be especially cognizant of the issues associated with PM2.5 factors.

Mike Gora has a very good site listed below for a fire/smoke map. I also like https://www.arcgis.com/apps/mapviewer/index.html?webmap=df8bcc10430f48878b01c96e907a1fc3#!%E2%80%8B, and https://firms.modaps.eosdis.nasa.gov/map/#d:24hrs;@0.0,0.0,3z. I use several others when doing hazard and threat prediction for the volunteer org I work with.

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FWIW, I have built maps with Arcgis and love it but took a closer look at the one I posted above and figured out that is was built with mapbox.com and can do even more than Arcgis. That surprised me. Both can be used for free to a limited extent.

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I've done a lot with Mapserver and Geoserver in the past, mostly weather depictions. I lost some skill when I started doing weather modeling and HPC for over 15 years. Getting back into some of the fun stuff now.

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I dread to think what would happen if there was a simultaneous air quality emergency and power failure

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Katelyn Jetelina

Permission to post link to other social media ?

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Jun 7, 2023Liked by Katelyn Jetelina

I think these are all public links. No permission needed.

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founding

A really effective cheap air filter is to strap a hepa filter to the intake side of a box fan. A few of those plus keeping doors and windows closed and even towels under the doors made living through the Washington/Oregon fires much better.

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Yes! A merv 11 or above filter works (for smoke/pollutants, merv 13 for viruses/bacteria), it doesn't even need to be labeled as "hepa". I recently learned there is a distinction and hepa can be more expensive, thus more likely to be cost prohibitive for many, so I thought I'd share. I built a Corsi-Rosenthal box this week with my 3 kids (thanks to covid in our house and having restless, but not well enough to go to school. All 3 had symptoms but only the 14 year old tested positive (throat/nose swab). The 8 year old duo remained negative according to multiple rats.

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Awesome idea. Thank you.

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"Pregnant people"? No: pregnant women.

You also need to look into the horror show that is "gender affirming care", which is mutilating hundreds and sterilizing thousands of children per year in the US.

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founding

That’s all a bunch of crap and you likely know it. If so, you’re a knowing propagandist for neofascist cleansing. If not, you’re the kind of pathetically weak man who gets his jollies attacking the most hounded, hated, and vulnerable population in the country, all of whom have more guts in their little pinkies than you’ll ever have. Or are you just horrified by your own attraction to trans people and reaction-formationing that into joining the burgeoning cleansing movement? All of the above?

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Yup. We need them mutilated children for eunuchs in my harem. Or maybe the Vienna Boy's choir.

I;m gonna say it..... GAY. As was my daughter. PhD in "Aapplied Social Psychology" . Contributed to society. She'd have loved to interview you.

You should read some of the NAZI science from the 1930s. You'll like it, I'm sure.

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With a gay daughter, you should be concerned about "transing away the gay". See the substack of LGB United:

https://www.thedistancemag.com

or the UK's LGB Alliance:

https://lgballiance.org.uk/facts/

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LOL. Mengele is currently at Mar-a-Lago, writing something about racial purity and cajoling all young women to contribute to the Lebensborn initiative for the Fatherland-in-Texas.

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My concerns about her being gay pretty much are gone, as she has proven her intellect to me innumerable times. She knows how to "dance on an earthquake".

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Wow. Gay people have to "prove their intellect" to you, even your own daughter, and you're calling other people nazis?

Have a nice day.

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I feel like it's worth stressing that for risks like wildfire smoke, which passes through an area faster than a virus, AVOIDANCE really is the word of the day - it's a good idea to have N95 masks and long sleeves and goggles if you absolutely have to, but mitigation doesn't cut it at certain levels of inherent risk.

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Can you tell me more about the long sleeves recommendation? I haven't heard that before.

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Sure. Smoke gets on the skin. There's really no part of the body that smoke doesn't damage, and it's not really a risk you can mitigate. Toxic air is responsible for 2+ years of lost life expectancy globally!!!!

If you can get out of the path of the smoke early and stay away for a few days, do so

If you can't - shelter in place, with air purifiers in every room.

If you have to go out: N95 mask, goggles, long sleeves

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It's hitting the East Coast now, but it will be a problem here on the West Coast soon enough. Good advice! I suspected the N95 mask would help, but good to have confirmation!

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For reference, 2.5 microns is up to 120x larger than Covid virions

I argue that’s why it turned out masks didn’t work.

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Yeah, I’m in the Hudson Valley in NY, and it’s been pretty apocalyptic. The surreal orange sun dully glares behind the yellow grey smoke. I’ve had a headache for 2 straight days. My friends and family with asthma are making good use of their inhalers. I’m in the middle of a grad class about environmental health so was already deep into reading studies about health effects of particulate matter before this descended on my area.

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It's just sad and frustrating to experience this first-hand (I'm in NJ) and know that it could've potentially been avoided if enough people took Climate Change seriously.

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Thank you Katelyn! Always such a rich source of timely, easily digestible inf. Sharing with my staff!

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founding

My suction cleaner has an exhaust HEPA filter, good to use often to capture dust that would be stired from walking. I also have particle detectors (2.5 & < 1 micron) . My HEPA cleaners v. Effective as shown by particles inside and out during the fire near Salinas CA.

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.....Scraped from the Washington Post.....

"Keep in mind, though, that N95s and similar respirators “only protect against particles,” according to the CDC. “They do not protect against chemicals, gases, or vapors, and are intended only for low hazard levels,” it notes. That’s why on poorer air-quality days, some experts say the best thing to do is stay inside.

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Particulate emissions are the main source of danger from wildfires, IIRC.

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Genuinely curious question: Assuming 'inside' isn't equipped with proper filters, why would being inside be more protective than being outside?

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Without heavy air circulation, the particulate matter would just drop to the floor and mostly stay there.

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founding

My detectors also detect organic vapors.

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Regarding #2 - "fresh air intake" isn't really a thing for most air conditioners. If there is any sort of intake, it will be a levered system that's separate and distinct from its functioning as an air conditioner. The only thing that moves between the inside and outside parts of an air conditioner is the refrigerant, which releases heat in its gaseous state and absorbs it when it's compressed back to a liquid. I'm concerned that people reading this post will be worried to run their air conditioners because they don't know how to turn off the "vent" or something like that. By default, for most window units, PTAC units, and ductless mini-splits, that's not something you'll have to worry about.

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