Wildfire smoke affects human health

By Grace Wong

Between the months of July through November it is wildfire season. Wildfire season directly and indirectly harms human health

Smoke exposure is a significant factor in increased health issues during fire seasons. High heat or dry powerful winds are the ingredients to create a wildfire.

Kim Troung, a biology student  at East Los Angeles College, said wildfire smoke composition includes: smoke from combustion of natural biomass.

 This is a complex mixture of  particulate matter, carbon dioxide, water vapor, exhaust fumes, hydrocarbons and other surface  chemistry, anesthetic and trace minerals.

 The individual compounds present in smoke number in the thousands. Troung said that wildfire smoke is hazardous. 

Stanford University conducted an allergy and asthma study that was published recently. 

The research said wildfire smoke is the same as secondhand cigarette smoke. It makes people sick and causes coughing or trouble breathing. 

Wildfires have rough pieces of particles that can be inhaled into the upper respiratory system.

 Still, the small amounts of particles can bypass the defense mechanism of your upper respiratory system and penetrate deep into a person’s lungs. 

Wildfire smoke increases the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like mental illness and Alzheimer’s.

 The following Wildfire smoke affects com from inhalation: 

An increase in susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections. Especially respiratory  infections. 

Eye irritation – eyes feel dryness or itchiness. 

Throat irritation – sore throat, feeling dry or scratchy. 

Chest discomfort – feeling heavy pressure. 

Congestion – feeling blocking or jamming. 

Wheezing -croaking or making hoarse sounds. 

Partica De La Cuadra, a nursing student at ELAC, said there  is no safe distance from a wildfire.

 Asthma can affect children if they are exposed to smoke for five consecutive days. 

The elderly may have strokes or increased heart attacks with smoke inhalation. Pregnant women may have premature births after being exposed to wildfire smoke. 

De La Cuadra said the news reported that a fire in August of 2020 burned 3.7 million acres in California, 26 people were killed and seven thousand structures destroyed. 

Clean breathable air during the wildfire season, is  a priority.

 Ways people can protect their health during the wildfire season include: 

Paying attention to the air quality ratings and keeping track of one’s risk. 

Staying indoors as much as possible. 

Keeping  indoor air clean by closing windows.

Not burning candles, smoke indoors or using toxic cleaners to clean a home. 

Using a HEPA filter can reduce the small particle concentrations by 85%.  

California has miles of coastline and idyllic weather. 

It is one of many reasons why people love to live  in California. 

Wildfires need to decrease in order for California to continue thriving and reduce the respiratory health risks of its people living in the state. 

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