Smoke traveling from western wildfires spreads bad air quality across the US

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Devastating wildfires across the Western United States has sent smoke traveling across the country and even into Europe. With that smoke comes bad air quality, not just for those near the fires, but for the entire continent.

Satelite images from NASA shows smoke thousands of miles from the fire. NASA says the smoke contains aerosols, a combination of particles which carry harmful things into the air and into your lungs. All the things that are burning, trees, grass, brush, homes, are turned into soot and absorbed by our lungs.

“This pollution, nobody knows how badly it will be affected but if we extrapolate from previous air quality it’s not good,” Dr. Malik Baz, the medical director at the Baz Allergy and Sius Center, said. “The long-term side effect, we’ll see many, many years down the line.”

Baz’s operates 13 locations in California, all of them are busy as Central California is essentially a big bowl surrounded by mountains which trap pollution over the valley. Air quality is always an issue for this part of the state and fires multiply the problem.

“People with respiratory, allergy, asthma, ,sinus problem, anytime the air quality goes bad, their symptoms get worse,” Baz said. “It affects them but this air quality, it doesn’t matter whether you have respiratory problems or not, everyone is affected.”

It’s bad in other western cities too.

“This is really an unprecedented wildfire season in 2020,” said Jon Klassen, director of air quality science and planning for San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “We have fires across most of the states in the western US, Washington, Oregon, California, Seattle. Portland has some of the worst air quality in the world right now, which is shocking because normally they have pretty good air quality.”

Klassen’s job is to monitor and