Wildfire Smoke Means Smaller Newborns And More ER Visits
Ask anyone who lived in Washington's Wenatchee Valley in 2012 about the smoke that year, and they'll remember. The fires were close and the valley's dry hillsides trapped the wildfire smoke. It was so bad clinics and drug stores ran out of masks. The air was so choked with smoke that summer camps were canceled and children were kept inside.
Anastazia Burnett won't forget that summer. More than once, asthma attacks drove her to the walk-in clinic for emergency treatment. At the time, she was newly pregnant with her first child.
It was scary, she remembers, "because, when your blood oxygen is low, your baby's blood oxygen is low, too."
Climate change is advancing. Snowpack is decreasing, and summers are hotter and drier. A century's worth of fire suppression is leaving forests overloaded with fuel. All of that is creating the conditions for wildfires to spread quickly and widely and burn huge trees along with the underbrush. Fire seasons are now 105 days longer in the western U.S. than they were in the 1970s. And longer wildfire seasons means more smoke pouring into cities and towns.
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