U.S. wildfires have far-reaching air quality effects

By on November 7, 2013

A new study suggests the wildfires that occur mainly in the western half of the U.S. may have far-reaching health consequences, Reuters reported.

The study, conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, examined government satellite images of smoke from wildfires in 2011. They found that the smoke drifted into 32 states, negatively affecting air quality for around two-thirds of the country’s population.

Eight states without wildfires within their borders experienced medium- and high-density levels of smoke pollution for up to a week. Additionally, the study found that in 2011 several Midwestern states dealt with unhealthy levels of smoky air for nearly two weeks.

Exposure to wildfire smoke can cause lung problems and incite preexisting respiratory conditions, such as asthma.

Image: Black carbon from the High Park Fire (Credit: NASA)

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