Although the fires have burned out, the Central Valley is still in smoke
FRESNO, CA -- As the fires are burning out throughout California thanks to the Santa Ana winds dying down, the smoke waves remain on the Valley floor as a dangerous health hazard.
While Gov. Gavin Newsom battles the politics between PG&E and the state of California due to the recent California wildfires according to a press conference a few weeks ago, Central Valley residents are unknowingly fighting for their lives to breath air that is still polluted by these recent wildfires--ironically, PG&E isn't all to blame in this fire issue.
As their political fight continues, Valley residents are swallowing dangerous smoke waves unwillingly, with no real choice in the matter.
The term “smoke wave” generally refers to a pulse of pollution from a wildfire that lingers for longer than a day, often caused by a large and long-burning wildfire, according to Climate Central's research, which also found that smoke waves are getting worse through the West, where scientists warn they will continue to get worse due to temperatures rising as fossil fuel and other greenhouse gas pollution trap heat, drying out forests and grasslands.
According to Climate Central's editor, John Upton, wildfires from other parts of California can affect the San Joaquin Valley because smoke can travel long distances. After smoke enters the valley, it can be difficult for it to escape.
"Even as the San Joaquin Valley’s overall air quality has been improving year-’round since 2000, Climate Central’s analysis of state data shows it has been worsening during wildfire seasons, undermining gains made through air quality regulations," stated Upton.
Upton's research shows the needed value of reincorporating prescribed, controlled fires which lessen the impact of unexpected California wildfires for several key reasons:
California’s forests evolved with wildfire. Fires on forest floors clear out branches, pine needles, saplings and other wildfire fuel, which reduces risks of large wildfires. When Americans reached California, they began fighting and extinguishing fires, allowing wildfire fuel to build up.
California lags behind other Western states in the use of prescribed burns, and it lags well behind Southeastern states such as Florida and Georgia.
Prescribed burns create smoke pollution. But they’re undertaken in a trade-off to avoid the smoke waves from large wildfires. That’s why the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and state and federal agencies are undertaking and encouraging more prescribed burns.
Climate Central identifies the tiny wildfire smoke particles, which can sometimes go unnoticed in small concentrations, as PM2.5 — referring to particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These particles are about four times smaller than dust, pollen, or mold particles, and about 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. They can reach deep into the lungs and the bloodstream, raising the risk of heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.
What is also a wake-up call is that the most vulnerable populations subjected to dangerous, unhealthy smoke waves include ethnic communities, agricultural and farmworkers, and schools located near industrial plants.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, startling health facts among Black children reveal the asthma health crisis:
In 2015, almost 2.6 million non-Hispanic blacks reported that they currently have asthma.
African American women were 20 percent more likely to have asthma than non-Hispanic whites, in 2015.
In 2014, African Americans were almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than the white population.
In 2015, African American children had a death rate ten times that of non-Hispanic white children.
Black children are 4 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic white children.
While all of the causes of asthma remain unclear, children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke exposure are at increased risk for acute lower respiratory tract infections, such as bronchitis.
Beyond the science of smoke waves, the incredible health risks must be explored more in depth; the lack of reporting in regards to the impact of Valley Fever affecting ethnic communities as well as its causes is blowing in the wind: The news deficit on the issue is precognitive of the lack of research in the medical profession to treat patients dying from the lung infection derived from a fungus in dust spores.
Valley residents are also in the dark regarding this grave topic affecting their families.
Stay tuned for more to come on these important health news issues.
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Watch last month's journalists townhall on the dangers of wildfires: