What’s in Wildfire Smoke, and How Dangerous Is It?

ACOM scientists Rebecca Hornbrook and Rebecca Buchholz contributed to a Wired article about wildfire smoke:

What are you breathing, exactly, when West Coast forests combust and waft smoke near and far? Charred trees and shrubs, of course, but also the synthetic materials from homes and other structures lost in the blazes. Along with a variety of gases, these give off tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller), that weasel their way deep into human lungs. All told, the mixture of solids and gases actually transforms chemically as it crosses the country, creating different consequences for the health of humans thousands of miles apart. In other words, what you breathe in, and how hazardous it remains, may depend on how far you live from the Pacific coast.

Read more at Wired (September 18, 2020) . . .


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Wildfire smoke over the central United States on September 13, 2020. Photo by Carl Drews.