Smoke from wildfires in California will cause lung problems throughout the country

The new National Meteorological Service map shows that smoke from California forest fires will rise into the air and be transported 3,000 miles to the east coast, where it can subtly affect health

Huge plumes of smoke from California wildfires have traveled across the country and may be exposing millions of Americans to fine particles that can damage their lungs.

There are 12 fires in California, decimating more than 10,000 acres and forcing more than 20,000 people to flee for their lives.

But even out of reach of fire, people in California and beyond may be in danger of inhaling toxic substances from fire.

The new map of the National Meteorological Service shows that the west coast is shrouded in dangerously thick smoke that will cross the country, even reaching the coast of Easwt.

At lower concentrations, smoke can still cause eye and lung irritation, especially in the elderly, children and people already suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

The new National Meteorological Service map shows that smoke from California forest fires will rise into the air and be transported 3,000 miles to the east coast, where it can subtly affect health

The new National Meteorological Service map shows that smoke from California forest fires will rise into the air and be transported 3,000 miles to the east coast, where it can subtly affect health

One of California's recent fires, the so-called Sacred Fire, has killed six firefighters trying to contain it, but smoke always kills more people than fire.

And many of its effects can cause imperceptible damage that can increase, increasing the risks of chronic diseases over time.

In domestic fires, people are more likely to die from lack of oxygen due to a high concentration of smoke than from the fire itself.

Smoke from forest fires is less dangerous because it is not trapped in such a small space, but that does not mean that it is free of dangers.

Even if you can not see it in the air, if there is smoke in the area, you may feel that your chest is squeezed. Smoke can make your breathing feel more labored and even cause wheezing, difficulty breathing and coughing.

& # 39; Many people can have respiratory symptoms when breathing smoky air. The good news is that most of the symptoms are ephemeral and resolve as the smoke dissipates, "said Dr. Karin Pacheco, of the division of environmental and occupational health sciences at National Jewish Health in Colorado.

But exposure to smoke can add a subtle risk factor to your long-term heart and lung health.

The most dangerous component of smoke is the smallest, called fine particulate matter (PM).

Solid burned matter is mixed with water droplets in the air to form PM that can sneak into the lungs and lodge there.

PM also causes a chain reaction in the body that can worsen heart and circulatory problems, as well as respiratory problems.

Fine particles trigger inflammation and the release of chemicals that also encourage the clotting of blood.

Effects such as these increase the risks of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrhythmia in the future.

A helicopter unloads flame retardant in one of the fires of California while the smoke rises upwards. Air quality in much of the state is now dangerous for residents

A helicopter unloads flame retardant in one of the fires of California while the smoke rises upwards. Air quality in much of the state is now dangerous for residents

A helicopter unloads flame retardant in one of the fires of California while the smoke rises upwards. Air quality in much of the state is now dangerous for residents

For people who already have a sub-prime heart health, the smoke can quickly stretch the body, so the danger of a heart attack or stroke after a serious smoke inhalation should not be taken lightly.

The weaker respiratory systems of children, the elderly and those with asthma or compromised immune systems may make them vulnerable to the most serious effects of smoke inhalation.

But the amount of smoke that emanates from California fires is so easy that it causes symptoms even in otherwise healthy people.

For those in California and neighboring states, to avoid the damage and discomfort of smoke inhalation, it is best to physically get away from it.

If you can not leave the area, the best thing to do is to stay indoors with the doors and windows closed.

When venturing out, limit your breathing rate by taking your time and doing everything possible to avoid physical activity or exercise outdoors.

There will not be enough smoke floating over the rest of the country to be necessary, but little to prevent people from inhaling air of poorer quality from the fine particles.

Ultimately, "for most healthy people, low amounts of wildfire smoke are more unpleasant than a health risk," Dr. Pacheco said, but precautions can help keep that risk to a minimum.

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