After mid of the year, it is quite a good time for the beginning of wildfire in the western US. End of the year, it has become a new trend of air pollution recently. So we have to be protected another case, after the covid-19, the season of the exhausting pandemic. Therefore, this point is a good time to talk about wildfire smoke through our knowledge station know your facts. What is wildfire smoke, how can it affects us and what can we do to be protected from it. Stay with Know Your Facts. Enjoy.
What is Wildfire Smoke Made of?
Most of the wildfire smoke is created by water vapor, gases, and other small particles. Carbon Monoxide, Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide can be often seen, and depend on the source, several toxic chemical gases can be released by wildfire.
But you can see the smoke in different colors by the particles which emitted in the burning.
How Can it be Created?
Wildfire smoke is mainly developed naturally. Mostly depend on dry climate, with higher temperature level are the main reason lately in the west US.
Apart from that small lightning conditions lead to a tree or drought wild bush, which can make immense wildfire.
Also, the eruption of volcanos, chalking between trees, and developing global warming conditions can be other reasons for wildfires in the season.
There are other reasons behind wildfires under human activity. Activities related to farming, timber, and coal processing can lead to creating a fire in drought seasons easily.
Also, a small spark has been created by an overhead power line, unexpected ignite by flammable material are the sides that man can involve in this controllable disaster.
Apart from that subversive activities are the main reason behind most incidents.
Is Wildfire Smoke Dangerous for Me?
Actually, avoiding a wildfire occurrence is the best thing you can do. Assuming that you have been exposed to one, inhaling toxic air contaminants, can be dangerous more than you think.
When you are in between a wildfire, the oxygen level is rapidly decreasing due to combustion.
So practically, you might be out of oxygen gas in a while. Even though you manage to keep your oxygen level at the required level, due to the smoke and covered dust particles, you might not know the direction you are headed. It might be the direction of a bush fire or another risky location.
When you are exposed to smoke for a longer period of time, there might be the following symptoms in you.
- Coughing and wheezing
- Stinging eyes
- Chest pain
Also if you are a person with heart, lung diseases, congestive heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, or asthma, you should avoid the smoke as soon as possible.
Apart from these, it can develop long term health impacts Mostly,
- Chronic inflammation
- Damage your lung tissues
- Inflammation inside body
- Decrease in birth weights
- Help with other long term health hazards
Who is Most Affected by Wildfire Smoke?
Not like other health conditions wildfire health conditions impact specific age groups in the community.
- Kids – Kids have got very weak, growing, and inexperienced airways with smoke. So it can easily be damaged with toxic exposure and lack oxygen, also can weak their heart
- Pregnant Women –Any disease related to the respiratory system can develop a big health impact on pregnant ladies. And they are often weak physically, between a smoke that can be much dangerous
- Older adults – Most due to bad health conditions and physically weakness
- People who have heart or lung diseases, like heart disease, lung disease, COPD, or asthma
What is AQI (Air Quality Index) level
AQI is also known as Air Quality Index is a method of reporting air quality in a certain location daily.
EPA calculates the AQI level in a location daily or per few hours depend on population or importance parameters. AQI level measures mainly,
- Ground-level ozone
- Particle pollution (also known as particulate matter)
- Carbon monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
Pollutant levels. Here EPA considers Ground-level ozone and airborne particles as the main human hazardous factors as two main air contaminants.
According to EPA, AQI level is measured as a numerical value in a certain region.
1. Good – (AQI 0-50) –
Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
2. Moderate – (AQI 51-100) –
Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants, there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people
3. Unhealthy to Sensitive Groups- ( AQI 101-150) –
Although the general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults, and children are at greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
4. Unhealthy-(AQI 151-200)-
Not only Sensitive groups, everyone feels unhealthy air quality, Sensitive groups feel serious health effects
5. Very Unhealthy-(AQI 201-300)-
Serious health impacts for everyone
6. Hazardous-(AQI 300<)
Health warning emergency to the entire population
(Reference – Michael C. Koester, MD., ATC- National Federation of State High School Associations – Sports Medicine Handbook –Fourth Edition/)
AQI is a helpful parameter in order to get a clue to have an understanding of air quality in a specific area before you have engaged in that location.
By studying the daily AQI level in the specific area you can get an idea of, “is there any specific air contaminant increment abnormally?”. Most areas are deeply synchronized with specific air pollution patterns depending on the period of the day.
If your area is seasonally under a threat of wildfire, the AQI index might give further quick notice about any change in the atmospheric condition.
What can we do to Be Safe from Wildfire Smoke?
There are several things we can manage to do against seasonal wildfire. But the main and best thing is staying away from the activities which lead to starting such hazardous incident.
Apart from accidents, some people try to create wildfires as a fun activity, as a dare. But you cannot imagine who vast damage it can lead to the ecosystem directly and indirectly.
Apart from that, what can we manage to stay away from the smoke? Let’s see.
1. Monitor Air Quality in Your Area
Update the outdoor residence area air quality is one of the key guidance to stay away from a wildfire if you often face it from time to time. Otherwise, it might be hard to take precautions right on the spot.
As mentioned above be AQI –Air Quality Index is one of the key parameters you can be used to update your atmospheric condition. Also, the following databases are very helpful in any pre-plan.
Every measurement does not give 100% accurate predictions and real-time updates.
So always, take a rough idea about the atmospheric conditions using these readings and they are quick to respond to bigger air pollutions like wildfires.(Reference)
2. Wear Respirator Smoke Mask
With Covid-19 risk attachments, masks have become a fashion to the latest society.
So it might further guidance to be protected from wildfire smokes too. Problem is, does every mask capable of filter their ash mixed toxic particulate matter through their filtration.
EPA recommends the Choose as “particulate respirator” that has been tested and approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
It will have the words “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it. Make sure it seals your nose and mouth by covers as better enough.
3. Do your Indoor Homeworks
In wildfire season protect your indoor air quality is the best option you have to be prepared other than most.
Also your office areas. By avoiding other kinds of indoor air pollution is the best way of minimizing the smoke impact. Mostly, avoid activities that increase indoor pollution like Burning candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves can increase indoor pollution.
HEPA filters can filter 99% of PM 2.5 particles through their filtration systems.
Also, if there is any filtration is required with VOC gas (Volatile organic compounds) carbon filtration systems are the best option with air purifiers.
Also with regular time intervals, maintain your indoor air filtration systems.
Replace the filters and other utilities from time to time in wildfire season to maximize your protection in advance.
Also if you are in wildfire minimize your exercise and other hard-working activities. Because it can cause and increase the situation in health hazards more than you expected.
4. Go with the Doctors guidance
If you are already using medicines for any respiratory system health conditions like asthma or lung diseases, update your doctor with the existing or upcoming wildfire season.
The doctor will surely give you proper guidance to be protected and keep your hygiene on a better timeline.
If your symptoms are getting worst, inform medical emergencies without any late. Because it can be much more health hazardous than exposure to normal smokes.
5. Clean outdoor Risks
If you are in a near or risky zone of wildfire, minimize the factor that can proceed the smoke conditions to the next step.
Clean your outdoor areas clean in remove wanted flammable materials which lead to the situation. If their any pre-identified risk from wildfires, prepared the most wanted kit with always-ready guidelines. Identify the less traffic path in evacuation.
Always listen to local NEWS and updates to check whether is there any possibility to go into safe locations.
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