Wildfires are natural disasters that have been occurring for centuries, due to lightning strikes or human activities. But as global warming increases, the occurrence of these wildfires is becoming more frequent, and more damaging to the environment and consequently also your health.
These wildfires can have a devastating effect on air quality. The smoke and gases released from the burning vegetation contain several hazardous air pollutants, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide and various organic compounds. Particulate matter is one of the most dangerous pollutants found in wildfire smoke. It is made up of tiny particles of dust, and soot that become airborne. Smoke particles travel long distances and can affect much larger areas than those directly impacted by the fire.
These small particles can cause a variety of respiratory and other health issues, such as asthma, bronchitis, cardiovascular diseases, including lung damage and cancer. Symptoms of health issues related to wildfire smoke include itchy eyes and throat, coughing, or difficulty breathing. In addition, smoke also causes smog and acid rain which can damage crops, cause acidification of soils, and disrupt the balance of ecosystems.
Protecting yourself from the effects of wildfire smoke is an important step to take to protect your health. The first step is to stay informed about current air quality levels in your area. If you live in an area with a high risk of wildfires or air quality alerts, it is important to know the signs of bad air quality and how to minimize your exposure.
When air quality is affected by wildfire smoke, it is best to limit outdoor activities until conditions improve. Wear a mask that is specially designed to filter out fine particulate matter when going outside and it’s great to have an air purifier in your home, which can effectively reduce the amount of particulate matter in the air in your living space. By using an air purifier, you can be sure that the air you breathe is of high quality and free from these pollutants!
For example, only in the United States there are approximately 70'000 wildfires every year and that number is increasing. On average 1,2 million acres of woodland burn every year. Important to know is that air quality can be a serious problem, even in distant locations, when a wildfire occurs. This is because smoke can spread for hundreds or even thousands of miles, carrying pollutants into areas far from the source of the fire (https://www.epa.gov/wildfire-smoke-course/challenges-predicting-smoke-concentrations).
As a current example you can check the status of wildfires and smoke in North America, by following the link below, where you can see real time data: