The Environmental Protection Agency assessed that breathing that kind of air is the equivalent of smoking 14 cigarettes.
With so many fires raging on throughout the state of California just this month, it's understandable for anyone to lose track of their respective damage. One case in particular is the wildfire that's still going on in Northern California. That specific fire has currently resulted in the deaths of 80 people, and another 1000 or more people being declared missing. Judging from looks alone, it seems as though this fire is only going to become worse and worse as time goes on.
According to Vox, the fire itself is not the only big danger for people nearby to worry over. The smoke coming from said fire is also a massive concern. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessed on Monday that the air quality index reached 316. Breathing that kind of air is the equivalent of smoking 14 cigarettes in a row! It has since improved marginally to 179. That, according to the EPA, is the equivalent of smoking 8 cigarettes in a row. It's still bad, though clearly not as bad as it used to be.
Regardless, the current air quality is dangerous for children, the elderly, and anyone suffering from existing heart or lung disease. Those that fall into one or more of the above categories need to stay indoors and away from physical activity. Experts explain that the air particles in wildfire smoke are so small that a lot of it can really fill up your lungs. Too much smoke in your lungs could cause severe damage before any flames ever reach you, even causing you to die of smoke inhalation.
So, what can you do right now? The biggest step is avoiding the outdoors unless absolutely necessary. If you need to go outside, wear either an N95 respirator or a P100 mask to block out a majority of wildfire smoke. It won't stop all the smoke particles from entering your lungs, but it will prevent most of it.
As of now, all of the California fires- not just the one in Northern California- are continuing to rage on with seemingly no end in sight. Many weather forecasters are hoping for a change in wind direction and that rain comes sometime next week, putting out these blazes and facilitating the work of firefighters. We can only hope that this nightmare will end sooner than later.