Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Smoke from wildfires puts Americans at risk

By
From page B4 | May 29, 2013 | Leave Comment

The issue: Larger fires mean larger smoke plumes traveling farther

Wildfires in this country have generally been considered the price one pays for living in the rugged and scenic reaches of the Far West and Southwest. If the fires were health hazards, they were dismissed as local ones.

RECENT RESEARCH has shown that wildfires are becoming a national health menace, especially considering that one-third of Americans have breathing or heart problems that put them at risk from the fine particulates — soot — from a wildfire that can travel thousands of miles from the site of the blazes.

The problem will only intensify. As the climate gets warmer and drier, wildfires will cover larger areas, generate more smoke and become more difficult to contain in fire seasons that are beginning to last longer.

The number of fires has remained relatively constant — roughly 74,000 a year — but the number of acres burned has grown. More than 7 million acres burned in eight of the past 12 years.

It doesn’t help matters that people insist on living in wooded areas that Mother Nature never intended as subdivisions. The pollution from the Colorado wildfires of last spring exceeded the worst pollution on record in such notoriously smog-shrouded cities as Beijing, Mexico City and Los Angeles.

Russia’s top pulmonary scientist, Dr. Alexander Chuchalin, compared the effects of the 2010 wildfires outside Moscow to the effects of smoking two packs of cigarettes within two or three hours.

AS USUAL, children and the elderly are the most at risk. The main culprit is fine particulate matter that goes deep in the lungs. By fine, the scientists mean particles a fraction of the width of a human hair. The particles and other hazards, like ozone pollution, can be there even when there’s no visible smoke.

Wildfires are notoriously difficult to predict, their direction determined by prevailing winds, topography and the presence of whatever trees and plants burn most easily.

Larger fires mean larger smoke plumes traveling farther, meaning families living where there is no immediate threat to life or property — who live out of sight, out of mind from the wildfires, far enough not even to smell the smoke — are still at risk from the pollution the fires throw up.

The science is getting better, but less than a third of all U.S. counties have air-quality monitors, and even fewer, even in the danger zones, have smoke emergency plans or ready access to enough effective soot-filtering masks.

WITH THE REACH of fire pollutants spreading nationwide through the atmosphere, the old adage needs to be revised: Just because there’s not smoke doesn’t mean there’s no fire, even if it’s half a continent away.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
Attorneys at odds over Woodland infant’s death

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

 
4-H members prepare for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Food insecurity remains an issue for many county residents

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

 
 
 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

 
Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

.

Arts

 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6