Q&A: Experts discuss the hidden health risks of wildfire smoke
Why have wildfires increased in California?
Can wildfire smoke make you sick?
Why is particulate matter from wildfires so bad?
What are the health risks of inhaling wildfire smoke?
What can I do to stay safe from wildfire smoke?
- Stay indoors and close your windows and doors
- Avoid heavy physical activity or being active for long periods of time.
- If you have an air conditioner, set it to recirculation mode and make sure to maintain its filter.
- Use portable air cleaners with HEPA filters.
- Consider using an N95 or K95 mask but be aware that even these masks can’t filter out certain gases released by wildfires. Wearing a mask doesn’t mean that you can work or play as normal outside. Remember that these masks are not suitable for very young children.
- If you have heart or lung disease, ask your health care provider if it is safe for you to wear a respirator.
Who is most at risk of falling ill from wildfire smoke?
- People with asthma and other respiratory diseases
- People with cardiovascular disease
- Pregnant people
- Older adults
- Outdoor workers
- Low-income communities and those of color
Can wildfire smoke disproportionately impact low-income communities and people of color?
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