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Climate change drives bigger wildfire seasons, threatens to wipe out progress on air pollution


Whether large or small, wildfires pose a far-reaching threat as smoke spreads through the air.

That smoke is made up of tiny particle-sized pollutants. Too much of which makes the air dangerous to breathe in.

Climate research has shown that more intense heat waves and longer-lasting droughts are both contributing to bigger and more intense wildfire seasons, resulting in more smoke-filled days in the western U.S.

Smoke or particle pollution, as it’s labeled in the air quality monitoring world, is bad enough on its own.

Another historically serious source of smoggy air comes from ozone, the product of fossil fuel emissions being released on hot, sunny days. Over the past couple of decades, changes in emissions policies and regulations have brought big reductions in high ozone days for the Central Valley.

According to data maintained by the state, the number of days with high levels of ozone pollution has dropped from 81 in 2000 to 47 in 2020.But according to Daniel Swain, who studies links between wildfire season and climate change, intensifying wildfire seasons have the potential to wipe out that positive progress on pollution.”It’s really striking to see that the very most extreme [pollution] days combined have been increasing even when the average […]

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