Wildfire Smoke May Increase Risk of COVID-19 Infection
Thursday, September 24, 2020
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Wildfires are becoming more common and severe due to climate change and its warmer and drier conditions, in Wyoming and across the West.
Now, health experts are warning people exposed to wildfire smoke also are at increased risk for COVID-19 infection.
Cheryl Pirozzi, a pulmonary physician with University of Utah Health, said the overlap of wildfire season with the coronavirus pandemic has sharply increased health risks.
"Wildfire smoke itself has harmful health effects," Pirozzi explained. "And there's a growing body of research showing that air pollution exposure increases risk for COVID-19 infection, and more severe disease or more deaths."
She said wildfire smoke includes a complex mixture of dangerous particulate pollution, which can cause inflammation and suppress the body's natural immune system, increasing the risk for respiratory viral infections, including COVID-19.
The latest data on air quality in your area is online at airnow.gov.
People who have contracted COVID-19 may also develop long-term conditions that put them at greater risk during wildfire season.
Pirozzi said the best way to protect yourself against the smoke is to reduce exposure. She said if possible, avoid outdoor activity during poor air-quality days.
"This applies to all people," Pirozzi said. "But especially more vulnerable people who are at higher risk - like older adults, and people with heart and lung diseases - should do everything they can to protect themselves from exposure to air pollution, but also exposure to COVID-19."
The Center for Disease Control's recommendations include having prescription drugs and other necessities delivered.
If you have to go outside, some masks rated N-95 or better offer protection against particulate matter, but Pirozzi said the mask won't help unless it's a tight fit.
Using an air purifier, and High Efficiency Particulate Air or 'HEPA' filters in air conditioning and heating units, can also improve indoor air quality.
get more stories like this via email
A bill in Congress with a Connecticut House sponsor aims to reduce child labor in the United States. Called the "Children Harmed in Life-Threatening …
As the opioid crisis continues, more New Hampshire grandparents are seeking financial help to raise their grandchildren. Already struggling with the …
As of Jan. 1, insulin will become a lot more affordable for many Nebraskans, and those who have come to rely on telehealth visits are more likely to …
Some state and local lawmakers are on a long list calling on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to require big oil companies to help offset the costs of …
Utilities and government agencies in the U.S. are carrying out plans to transition to cleaner electricity sources. To avoid being left behind…
Conservation groups are celebrating a long-fought battle to protect the dwindling population of wolverine in the Northwest and northern Rockies…
As world leaders gather in Dubai for the international conference on climate change, the City of Long Beach is acting on multiple fronts to help the …
A new report is calling for greater accountability in the system providing funding to farmers in underserved communities. The research takes a dive …