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Surviving the Smoke Apocalypse 101: Californians Advice for New Yorkers | Air Pollution

The sight of orange skies, thick smoke, and the eerie smell of an out-of-place campfire was all too familiar to Californians.

But this time the scene new york The city where smoke from more than 400 wildfires darkened its famous skyline and gave the United States the worst day of air pollution in recent history.

The East Coast scene is 2020 as wildfires spiraling out of control blanket much of the western United States in smoke, dropping San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and skyscrapers under an otherworldly orange glow. Reminds me of the middle of the month. Prior to this week, September 13 and 14, 2020 were the worst days of wildfire smoke pollution since 2006.

Researchers at Stanford University have found that wildfire smoke pollution in the United States is the worst on record in recent history. Photo: Stanford Echo Lab

Then came the wildfires of Canada, posing a once unimaginable and distant problem to communities unfamiliar with such disasters and to a population unfamiliar with the dangers of wildfire smoke and the necessary precautions. I was.

“I’m not sure people realize how bad it is,” said Keith Bain, an expert researcher at the University of California, Davis. “Perhaps a really healthy person would have no problem. [For] It’s really possible that this could trigger something for susceptible people. This could be a tipping point. ”

While unprecedented on the East Coast, residents of the American West have grown accustomed to the effects of wildfires, thanks to years of large and devastating fires that upended the lives of entire regions. I was. And they have some advice.

“Wear a mask, use an air purifier, and stay indoors if you can. If you feel tired, cranky, or unwell, you’re probably feeling the smoke,” says writer SE Smith. said on Twitter.

“Tips for our East Coast friends: 1) Don’t go outside. 2) If you must go outside, wear a mask. 3) Keep your air purifier running day and night. 4) Air conditioners should be in recirculation mode.Thanks to the Coast for frequently addressing this crisis,” California Governor’s Press Secretary Brandon Richards said on Twitter.

Wildlife conservationist Beth Pratt said on Twitter that the smoke is now basically a California summer. “A good air filter can help, but be careful outdoors (pets should be supervised, too).”

Bain, who travels to wildfire areas to collect smoke data and measure how smoke affects humans, echoed that recommendation. “Reduce physical activity as much as possible. Want to do nothing, stay indoors with windows closed, turn on your HVAC system. If you have a personal air purifier, turn it on.”

San Francisco covered in smoke in September 2020.
San Francisco covered in smoke in September 2020. Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

Bain said it was best to leave the affected areas, acknowledging that sometimes there is nowhere to go and not everyone has the means to leave.

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He recommends that people who cannot access resources at home go to public places where resources are available, such as libraries. You should also wear a mask, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or belong to vulnerable groups such as the elderly or pregnant women.

The level of wildfire smoke seen on the East Coast permeates everything, and even if you can’t see it or smell it, the risk of air pollution remains.

“Even after it subsides, it’s still floating in the air and keeps falling off clothes and walls. is not.”

Bain said research into the long-term and immediate effects of wildfire smoke is a relatively recent development and there are still many unknowns. However, studies have linked smoke exposure to an increased risk of heart attack, an increased risk of premature birth, and lower test scores in children.

“There’s nothing good about breathing wildfire smoke,” Bain says. Do you have an air purifier? Do you have an N95? Do you know how to use them? Do you know you need to use them?

And given that wildfires are on the rise in Canada’s forests, residents of the East Coast should prepare for smoky days.

“As climate change accelerates and fires become larger and more common, they could become a major problem for the East Coast in the coming years,” Bain said. “Every day feels like an apocalyptic apocalypse with endless orange skies, but this will be the new normal.” Surviving the Smoke Apocalypse 101: Californians Advice for New Yorkers | Air Pollution

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