From heavy metals to COVID-19, wildfire smoke is more dangerous than you think

in Environment/Nature

When Erin Babnik awoke on the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, in Paradise, California, she thought the reddish glow outside was a hazy sunrise.

But the faint light soon gave way to darkness as smoke from the burgeoning Camp fire rolled in.

“The whole sky turned completely black, and there were embers flying around,” Babnik recalled. “I remember it smelling horrible.”

She hastily evacuated to nearby Chico with little more than an overnight bag. Her rented home, along with nearly every other structure in Paradise, would soon be reduced to ash.

Although several years have passed and thousands of additional wildfires have ignited across California, researchers are still unpacking the precise dangers of smoke from blazes like the Camp fire. Already this year, plumes from Western fires are making their way across much of the U.S. and Canada.

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