There has been more wildfire damage this year than any other on record. And the year’s not over yet. At the end of 2017 experts were calling it the worst year on record; however, it seems 2018 will top that.
To some degree, fires are a natural part of a forest’s lifespan. Small fires help to remove dead wood and clear the ground for new growth. However, as areas like California became more heavily populated, these smaller fires were stopped before they could make a difference. This has left us with large areas of countryside that are heavily overgrown. Add to this increasing drought, as a result of climate change and you have a recipe for disaster.
For years California made great progress, cutting carbon emissions and lowering pollution levels. Sadly, the recent increase in forest fires has stopped this progress completely. And it’s not just residents living close to the fires that are at risk. Fallout from fires can pollute the air up to 1000 miles away.
Particulate matter, carbon monoxide, atmospheric mercury, ozone-forming chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) are all released into the air, causing severe respiratory problems, increasing asthma risk and worsening COPD symptoms.
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