Wildfires’ toxic air leaves damage long after the smoke clears | SteamboatToday.com
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Wildfires’ toxic air leaves damage long after the smoke clears

Toxic air from fires has blanketed California and the Pacific Northwest for weeks now, causing some of the world’s worst air quality.
Lisa Schlichtman

SEELEY LAKE, Mont. — When researchers arrived in this town tucked in the Northern Rockies three years ago, they could still smell the smoke a day after it cleared from devastating wildfires. Their plan was to chart how long it took for people to recover from living for seven weeks surrounded by relentless smoke.

They still don’t know, because most residents haven’t recovered. In fact, they’ve gotten worse.

Forest fires had funneled hazardous air into Seeley Lake, a town of fewer than 2,000 people, for 49 days. The air quality was so bad that on some days the monitoring stations couldn’t measure the extent of the pollution. The intensity of the smoke and the length of time residents had been trapped in it were unprecedented, prompting county officials to issue their first evacuation orders due to smoke, not fire risk.



Many people stayed. That made Seeley Lake an ideal place to track the long-term health of people inundated by wildfire pollution.

Read the full article here.


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