The East Coast is once again impacted by smoke from wildfires. What are the health risks?

 The elderly are particularly vulnerable to the effects of PM2.5 due to their body's inability to combat cardiovascular and respiratory inflammation, which can be exacerbated by other health conditions, according to Dominici. Limited mobility also increases their risk of exposure.

Young children, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular disease are also at significant risk. Socio-economic status and race can further increase vulnerability, with research from Harvard indicating that low-income and minority populations experience greater exposure to fine-particulate pollution.

Lower-income individuals may be unable to evacuate during wildfire season and lack the financial resources to obtain expensive filtration equipment, leaving them at greater risk. Many low-income individuals are also front-line workers.

The National Ambient Air Quality Standard recommends a maximum exposure of 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air annually and 35 micrograms per cubic meter in a 24-hour period. However, experts believe that 35 micrograms per cubic meter daily is still too high. Dominici argues that the federal government's standards are insufficiently protective and should be lowered as evidence suggests that there is no "safe" level.

To limit exposure to poor air quality, individuals should stay indoors and use air purifiers during wildfires. Indoor exercise is recommended as inhalation rates are higher during physical activity. Masks can also be effective, but only if they are designed to filter out fine particulate matter. However, masks cannot offer complete protection from toxic particles released during wildfires.

طلحة عبد الكريم
By : طلحة عبد الكريم
مدير و محرر مدونة الموقع التقني.