As if those of us living in Southern California didn't already have enough to worry about with the rampaging wildfires that have engulfed much of the region and prompted the evacuation of over 500,000 people, health officials are now cautioning residents to remain indoors as the already poor air quality continues to deteriorate. The wave of fires has stirred up large plumes of smoke that have been pumping soot particles into the atmosphere - the tiniest of which are responsible for aggravating several debilitating diseases, including emphysema, asthma and heart disease.
As Michael Kleinman, a professor of community and environmental medicine at UC Irvine noted, those particles "can penetrate deeper in the lungs and have harsher health effects," often causing "tissue damage, inflammation and irritation". The health risks of exposure are particularly acute since this is one of the first times so many Southern Californian cities have been blanketed by a combination of smoke and dust kicked up by stronger winds.While officials sought to tamp down some of the concern by emphasizing that the smell of smoke alone wasn't reason enough to worry, they did point out that those living close to the wildfires or large areas of soot should be careful because of the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide. Those areas were given "unhealthy" or "very unhealthy" air quality readings by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Via ::Los Angeles Times: Windblown soot, gas and dust pose threats (newspaper)