Wildfires can cause more than $1 billion dollars in damage every year in the US, according to the Insurance Services Office.1 Even if a community has not been directly impacted by a wildfire, the smoke produced by the fire can diminish the air quality inside and outside the homes of the surrounding area. As a result, breathing in this polluted air from wildfire smoke can be harmful to your health.
Smoke is made up of a mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These tiny particles can penetrate deep into your lungs. They can cause a variety of health problems, from burning eyes and a runny nose to heart and lung disease. Exposure to particle pollution is even linked to premature death.2
People who’s health is more at risk from wildfire smoke
- Children under 18 years old
- Adults 65 years or older
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, asthma, and diabetes
- Outdoor workers
- People with lower socioeconomic status or those with limited access to medical care
- Immunocompromised or people taking drugs that suppress the immune system
Moreover, wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.3 Therefore, clean indoor air is now more important than ever.
You and your loved ones should be vigilant and act quickly when a fire alert is issued. Seeking a safe and healthy indoor air environment is especially important for the health of children, pets, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease.4