Wildfire smoke is more deadly than you think

wildfire usa toxic air pollution

These are trying times. At the time of writing this blog, the number of Covid-19 cases in the USA has reached almost 35 million. In the world, the number of cases has eclipsed 190 million. We are not safe from the pandemic yet, and it is important to still wear face masks in public. 

As if that wasn't enough, the U.S. is also plagued by wildfires, most likely due to weather pattern changes caused by accelerating climate change. Wildfires create massive amounts of toxic air pollution. 

Those most at risk from wildfire smoke are people with respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD, a chronic lung disease, and pregnant women whose developing fetuses could be affected.

Air pollution makes you more vulnerable to Covid-19

What’s more, smoke from wildfires could make it harder for people to fight off COVID-19 infections and the emerging variants because their immune systems are already battling pollution. Studies have shown that people exposed to air pollution are more likely to die from COVID-19.

“Any type of respiratory disorder or infection is going to impair your ability to fight other infections,” says Prunicki. “So if smoke causes a reaction now, when you’re hit with an infection, your body won’t be prepared to fight it.”

The STYLESEAL air pollution mask is able to filter both the toxic particulate matter from wildfires, as well as any airborne viruses or germs. Our filters blocks particles down to 0.1 microns, which is far smaller than the PM2.5 particles often mentioned in the news.

A study published in Nature Communications in March found that exposure to wildfire PM2.5 drove up hospitalizations by as much as 10 percent from 1999 to 2012. Exposure to other sources of PM2.5, however, drove hospital visits by just over one percent.

Wildfire smoke contains high levels of toxic lead

Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) published an analysis of the thick smoke produced from the state’s 2018 Camp Fire, which burned 150,000 acres, torched 19,000 buildings, killed 85 people, and destroyed the town of Paradise.

Smoke lingered for nearly two weeks in northern California and reached San Jose and Modesta, about 150 miles away. In the smoke were dangerous levels of metals like manganese, zinc, and, most worryingly—lead.

The high levels of lead persisted for 24 hours, making it difficult to link to specific ailments, but lead exposure has been linked to cancer and reproductive issues in adults and developmental problems in children.

“We can’t tie this short-term exposure to a specific health effect, but we can say lead is very dangerous, and there’s no safe exposure,” says Bonnie Holmes-Gen, the Health and Exposure Assessment branch chief at CARB.

Even more toxins may be lurking in wildfire smoke from fires that burn through neighborhoods, consuming homes containing manufactured items such as electronics, insulation, and plastic.

man and woman wearing styleseal air pollution mask

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