It’s officially wildfire season. Climate change has made wildfires more frequent and intense. We certainly don’t need to inform people in Canada and the Northeast, as they can just look outside and see dangerous levels of smoke. Wildfire smoke contains tiny particles
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.
The best map of this, with a forecast, may be the one at https://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/current/
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?
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.
Permission to post link to other social media ?
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.
"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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you Katelyn! Always such a rich source of timely, easily digestible inf. Sharing with my staff!
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.
.....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.
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.