Smoke from the California wildfires has createdhazy skies in Idaho and Montana, in some instances prompting air quality alerts. The smoke can be especially troublesome for people with breathing difficulties.
Whats dangerous about (smoke particles) is that they get deep inside the lungs, said Alfred Munzer, former president of the American Lung Association. Our lungs were just not made for this kind of dirt.
Although smoke makes the days uncomfortable for some people, scientists say it may actually do some good as it heads toward the Arctic. Smoke creates a thin layer of aerosols, or liquid and solid particles, which blocks some of the sunlight reaching the surface andtemporarily lowers temperatures.
Depending on how widespread the smoke is, the cooling effect could last weeks or months, according to National Geographic.
Scientists have feared that the ice in theNorth Pole could melt completely this summer.
Headline Links: California smoke travels miles away
Parts of Montana are covered in a haze of smoke originating from several wildfires. Some of the smoke came from fires within the state, and from Canada. However, Tim Roark, environmental health director for Gallatin County, said, Its pretty clear that the bulk of everything is pulling in from Northern California. Source:Bozeman Daily Chroniclego to site »
Idahos Department of Environmental Quality recently issued an air quality alert because smoke from California had settled on the state. Any time you really try to breathe in heavy theres a little pain in the lungs, said Adam Grenzebach, an avid biker. Source:KBCI-TV (Idaho)go to site »
Historical Context: How far will smoke spread?
If smoke clouds from fires are hot enough and rise high enough into the air, they can travel substantial distances. In 2002, smoke from wildfires in Colorado and Arizona was seen in New Mexico, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Fires in Quebec spread smoke from Maine to North Carolina, and even over toward Ohio. Douglas Westphal, a meteorologist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, Calif., said smoke there had even been instances of smoke drifting from British Columbia to the Northeast, and from South America to Africa. Source:USA Todaygo to site »
Related Topics: Managing the health effects of smoke; Arctic warming
Coping with wildfire smoke
People with cardiac and respiratory conditions should be especially careful when wildfire smoke is present where they live. Limit time spent outdoors and physical activities, and keep a supply of any prescribed medications on hand. Dust masks generally arent effective in protecting from the worst pollutants caused by smoke, according to Lake County News. However, for people who need to enter a burned area to check property or clean up after a fire, these simpler masks are useful for filtering large particles. Source:Lake County Newsgo to site »
Smoke in the Arctic
In the summer of 2004, wildfires spread through Alaska and Canada. Scientists analyzed how the fires affected the amount of sun able to reach the Earths surface. The smoke over Barrow, Alaska, was so thick that its absorption and scattering of the suns energy rose a hundredfold and helped cool the region, according to National Geographic. But the smoke isnt entirely beneficial. If smoke particles settle on snow or ice, they darken the ground, allowing the surface to absorb more heat and warm faster later on. Source:National Geographicgo to site »
After a drastic polar meltdown last year, climate scientists say that the Arctic region is primed for the previously unimaginable. Source:findingDulcineago to site »