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Wind and Fire Create More Problems


Last updated 9/16/2015 at 2:21pm

For what seems like California’s only problem are the blazing fires devouring thousands of acres and leaving thousands of people homeless, now they also have to worry about that smoke those fires emit. Smoke is composed of microscopic organic matter called micrometer particulates. Theses particulates are so small that they can dodge the body’s defenses like hair and mucus.

The smoke can cause respiratory problems, coughing, asthma, chronic lung disease, and even heart attacks. The particulates can also contaminate the bloodstream. A person can inhale an average of 35 micrograms of particulates in a day before they can feel health problems. The California Air Resources Board monitors the levels of smoke in the air, and found that the highest rates, 10 and 34 micrograms, are being found hundreds of miles away from where the major fires, like the Valley Fire, are burning. This means that not only people close to the fires are being affected, but also people across the state.

Air flows from the Pacific Ocean and then to Central Valley. From there, it splits north and south, where fires are currently burning.

California is currently under a low pressure system and moisture is mitigating the levels of particulates. However, extended forecasts show warmer temperatures for areas surrounding fires. High pressure system would bring the particulates down to low areas, like the valleys.

Perhaps the upcoming El Niño can help alleviate the ongoing problems that fires are causing and can cause.

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