The recent fires blazing across California have exposed 1.6 million people to lethal levels of smoke. The dangerous smoke contains fine particles that can get lodged in the lungs and trigger heart attacks.
Over 100,000 people have been evacuated from the path of five fires, such as the Thomas fire in Southern California. But as the fires continue to rage, health officials are warning of the danger of smoke inhalation.
According to the Daily Mail, as the California fires rage, the smoke blanketing the state is putting nearly 1.6 million residents of three counties at risk for lung and heart problems. The fine particles of burned materials in smoke embed themselves into our lungs, causing burning and irritation in the short term, but exposure to fire smoke is insidious, and has been linked to serious diseases and even premature death.
Poor quality air from fire smoke can aggravate heart, lung, and inflammatory diseases, causing acute symptoms and hospitalizations. But, even for healthy people, the effects of smoke inhalation include milder problems like burning, wheezing and irritation, and could develop into more serious respiratory infections in the coming weeks. For people with underlying heart conditions, a smoky day can be deadly.
More than 230,000 acres in Southern California have been scorched, at least one person has died, and the Thomas fire is not expected to be contained until Christmas Eve.
The Thomas Fire is now the fifth largest in history and smoke from it has filled the air in Ventura, San Jaoquin, and Santa Barbara counties with levels of smoke that air quality regulators deem ‘unhealthy.‘ –The Daily Mail
Smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter. Inhaling heavy smoke temporarily changes the way that our lungs work as we breathe. This causes the sensations of burning, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. “The main pollutant we’re concerned about is PM2.5, very small particles that can get into the deepest parts of the lungs and cause not only lung, but heart issues,” says Lyz Hoffman, public information officer at the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District.
To try to mitigate these helath concerns and risks, Santa Barbara County has handed out more than 300,000 N-95 face masks. The masks can effectively block toxic particles in ways that scarves and even surgical masks cannot.
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.