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In the western United States, the first obvious signs of climate change have begun to emerge. Long droughts have been parching the forests and grasslands of California leaving them dry, dead, and vulnerable. The ever-increasing temperatures of the summer bring no water, and the “wet” winters have brought less and less relief over the years. Whether it’s a strike of lightning or a cigarette butt, wildfires have been forming and levelling the dry forests of California. These wildfires have been so strong and large that practically everyone in the United States has seen the smoke–– and possibly felt the effects as well. This brings the question: How dangerous is it to be around smoke and breathe it in? Spoiler: it’s dangerous.

Studying the effects of wildfire smoke on people is more difficult that it may seem. If you have ever had a campfire and have placed different branches and pieces of wood on it, you may notice that the smoke color seems to change as well. Put something dry on with a lot of sap, and the smoke will appear dark and dense. Put something extremely dry on instead and the smoke will look relatively cleaner. This is one of the main problems facing scientists who study the effects of wildfire smoke on a population. Depending on the type of forest that is burning, the smoke may be dense and dangerous or cleaner and safer. The fires in California, however, have created the worst air quality for locals in the entire world. In the smoke, there are many different chemicals formed which are a danger to human health. Ozone and known cancer-causing compounds are plentiful in the air. Perhaps most dangerous, however, is the dusty soot coming with the smoke––known as fine particulates.

Fine particulates cause the most obvious immediate damage to the lungs. When they are breathed in, they stick to the inside of the lungs and fill the alveoli, causing damage to the lungs. The fine particulates can make their way into the bloodstream and damage the heart, kidneys, liver, and more. As you may suspect, smoke can also cause a massive blow to the immune system, hindering your body’s bacteria and virus fighting abilities. Many researchers today suspect that the people affected by the California fires are more likely to have a severe reaction to the Coronavirus. In addition to this, it has been estimated that the wildfires just this year are responsible for 1,000 to 4,000 extra deaths in the state of California alone.

Though solutions to the fires are slim, there are some actions that can be taken. On the national level, it’s imperative to elect leaders who will fight climate change. Scientists have predicted that with rising global temperatures, by the 2050’s there may be 3x more wildfires in California. These fires are also predicted to move further east––from Texas all the way to Pennsylvania.

On the individual level, it is important to protect yourself and your loved ones. Children, the elderly, and pets are the most susceptible to the negative effects of the smoke. You can help your family by making sure all parts of the house are closed and sealed, and by purchasing an air filtration system with a filter rated as a “MERV 13”. N95 masks will also work to reduce exposure. If you didn’t want to wear a mask because of the coronavirus, here’s one more reason!

The negative health effects of the wildfires in combination with the coronavirus is a very dangerous combination. In times where infection and susceptibility are so high, it is smart to try and boost the immune system and reduce exposure as much as possible. For an added benefit, Kare~N~Herbs may be of use to you. By reducing your stress with our Tranquility Kare, you likely will be boosting your immune system. Furthermore, our Kold Kare and Immune Kare packages contain a powerful herb used for centuries to prevent the risk of illness, known as Andrographis paniculata, known to enhance the immune system. Stay safe, everyone!

~From the Adaptogen Experts at Kare~N~Herbs

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