Tuesday, October 23, 2007

wildfire california - (more) poisonous air

okay, this is to follow up my post from yesterday (reference: poisonous air).

it's amazing how fast things can change...for the worse.

so this was the satellite image of the fires yesterday:compare this to the satellite image today:ummmmmmmm...yeah. fires seem a little worse, yeah? smoke and ash ditto, yeah? and they're saying that it actually could have been worse, since they were originally expecting winds as strong as those from the past 2 days (as much as 75-100 mph) but instead got winds of only 15-30 mph.

as a matter of timeliness, i'll embed a live Google map of the fires created by the LA Times:

View Larger Map

and the stuff i wrote yesterday about the health dangers from the smoke and ash is now confirmed by news reports. CNN posted an article about the dangers of inhalation from wildfires, even for people in areas not immediately affected by them. the link to the article is: http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/10/23/env.health/index.html. but i'll excerpt the relevant part here:
...the real concerns are the particles and gases in the smoke. When a fire burns it generates carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and other chemicals.

And the wind can carry those particles to areas far from the fires. See the NASA photograph of smoke from the fires

When you breathe the smoke, the tiny particles burrow deep into the lungs, causing serious irritation, mucous build-up and breathing problems.

Most masks don't really help, because the particles are so tiny they pass through the filters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said that people with heart and lung disease, children and older adults are most vulnerable, but even healthy adults can suffer symptoms when smoke levels are high enough.

It said smoke can cause:

• Coughing
• A scratchy throat
• Irritated sinuses
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Headaches
• Stinging eyes
• A runny nose
• Asthma exacerbations

The government's Air Quality Index shows "unhealthy" pollution levels in much of Southern California. That means that people may experience these symptoms.

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said those problems can last for weeks after the fire.

He said the best thing to do if you smell smoke is to stay inside.
yeah, i live in South Pasadena and my school is USC (down by downtown), meaning that i'm not anywhere near the burn areas. but we are most definitely directly in the smoke plume from the fires to the north and east (depends on the direction of the winds, but we're getting it either way). and i--and all my friends--are pretty much getting all the symptoms given in the article.


that's kind of an afterthought at this stage. i can get stuff in at the gym, but beyond that there's pretty much nothing that's going to go on. not at least while things are the way they are. that, and it seems kind of ludicrous to go for a bike or run (or even swim) with all the toxic material in the air and with people streaming down to the city to get away from the fire.

if there's more to post, i'll post.

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