Comments

lightedman 5d
The smoke levels in the Western USA are horrible, and are only going to get worse due to the inability of state administrations to allocate proper funding for brush clearing and controlled burns, and this is only compounded by the drought we're experiencing.
Proven 5d
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JoeAltmaier 5d
It's not good of course, and will have health repercussions.

But I remember that sitting around a campfire or in a hut with a fire going all your life is the way people lived for the first million years. And I hope we have some resilience to smoke.

cagenut 5d
This reminds me, and is as good a place to ask as any. Does anyone know how to get custom cardboard boxes made? Are there particular tools or vendors (or even just keywords to search on upwork/fiver) where you can design custom-cut cardboard that will fold in specific ways to build a cube?
linuxftw 5d
There's been a recent trend on this site of "X thing is happening" but in the article, it inevitably blames 'climate change' in one way or another.

Maybe this site should be called 'ClimateChange News' instead of Hacker News.

Madmallard 5d
This site is hacker news why are we getting articles like this? I want to get regular news from not hacker news.
guitarbill 5d
A comparison would be nice. The smoke can be awful, no doubt - but is it worse for a person's health than living near a busy road or highway? That is 24x7, and cumulative over many years.
Syonyk 5d
Yeah... living in the Treasure Valley area (Boise metro region), it's been getting pretty bad out here. And they don't have 2021 data listed, which, IMO, was worse than 2020. It just settled in early and never left all summer long. Quite vile, and makes being outside a challenge. I did a lot of outdoor work in 2020 and I'm pretty sure I've not been quite the same since, and I seem far more sensitive to smoke than I was.

> ...“which means an increasing portion of the particulate matter that people are exposed to is unregulated.”

Forests, annoyingly, don't respond to regulations on if they're allowed to burn or not. And while it's certainly popular and at least somewhat reasonable to blame a lot of it on climate change, the reality is that this has been inevitable for quite a few decades - the question was just, "When?"

Starting in the late 1930s, the US Forest Service had their 10AM Policy of basically putting forest fires out as soon as possible. Starting in the late 1940s, after WWII, they actually had the mechanized equipment and airplanes to start doing that effectively - with a corresponding reduction in acres burned.

Unfortunately, "things that can't go on forever won't," and that approach to forest management can't go on forever. The forest ecosystems, especially in the west, need to burn. Lots of species of pine only seed after fire, and it goes through clearing the underbrush, killing weak trees, etc. But the "standard forest fires" of the western pine forests aren't the catastrophic crowning events that have been more and more standard for the past decade or two - because there's so much fire load from 70 years of not burning, when they do catch fire, they go off like a bomb. And that's before you find things like the pine beetle killed swaths of forest down in New Mexico, which means thousands of acres of wind-dried, long dead pine, waiting to catch fire. One doesn't fight that, one gets out of the way.

So, unfortunately, climate change or not, this sort of thing was inevitable, eventually. And there's really no chance to do much until the forests "reset" back to a more sustainable fire load.

And, yes, I'll agree with "extreme" pollution levels. I've measured PM2.5 into the 150s, and PM10 north of 250 out here before. It's... disgusting? Vile? Human-toxic? Just being outside is painful.

I've been dealing with it indoors with air filters - I have one of the "build a box of filters around a fan" style filters that does a fine job of keeping indoor air quality acceptable, at least on a fairly tight house. The furnace filter does a good job too, though I'm pretty sure I need to get the ducts cleaned.

For outdoor work, I've given up and gone to wearing a 3M painter's half mask with P100 filters. They do a fine job of it, and the newer-style P100s (white with pink grids, not the solid pink ones) breathe freely enough for just about anything with two of them on the mask. One could run with them, though I'm not sure that sounds a great idea.

I'm seriously considering a winter project of building something positive pressure, though. A filtered feed into a face mask would be very nice for outdoor work on the "really bad" years. It's not just breathing the air that's vile, it's the air in my eyes. Running down the road on a motorcycle in bad air is just... not enjoyable. And we don't have the surplus vehicles to all take cars when there's vehicle conflict. I'm seriously debating rigging the positive air pressure filtration setup to a motorcycle helmet as well. Just... get me something less-vile when riding.

All this to say, "Yeah, it's gotten really bad out west." I just don't see a path for it to change any time soon, so I'm trying to adapt to it as best I can.

Some writings of mine on non-internet-connected air quality sensors and details on the filters I've built: https://www.sevarg.net/2021/08/28/temtop-air-quality-sensors...

FollowingTheDao 5d
Since I know many people here struggle with mood issues, just know that higher PM2.5 leads to greater mood instability.

https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.20180056...

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5...

mistrial9 5d
fantastic hindsight math here from Stanford University. It was five years ago that the San Francisco Bay Area, rivaling Beijing in yet another way, had the worst PM2.5 air quality in the entire world for a few days. (insert dramatic pictures here)

It was more than ten years ago that the Jerry Brown appointed head of the California Air Resources Board Mary D. Nichols, was named a national public enemy by privately funded experts and their political area commanders.

The situation at hand in the forests of California, with >100 million dead trees standing, is a direct result of 100 years of belligerent, unyielding control of fire fighting by the USDA-USFS, with their alliances among what is now known as 30x30 program.

Their cozy allies want to make monarchical statements of Science to accompany the massive budgets being thrown at this problem. They have "AI" which clearly makes them authoritative and worthy of leadership? Combine this with an invite session at Stanford Woods Institute for maybe fifty leaders, to address "inequity" .. also apparently worth billions in budget.

Maybe there is merit to their math, but the agenda here is running huge, huge budgets .. to whom? for what?

wintermutestwin 5d
If you want to get an indoor air filter to clean up the toxic air that enters your home, I recommend an industrial solution. Go down to your local indoor growing shop and check out the carbon filters that the pot growers use to scrub the weed smell.

Get a filter like this: https://indoorgrowing.com/collections/vortex/products/profil...

And pair it with an inline fan to match like this: https://indoorgrowing.com/collections/vortex/products/vortex...

That gets you 400CFM of air cleaning power for ~$500. (you can get this stuff for much cheaper used as the margin on indoor pot growing has tanked)

Compare to a "designed for the home" air purifier like this: https://oransi.com/products/mod-hepa-air-purifier

Compared to my proposed industrial solution, the air purifier costs $100 more and is about 1/4 the CFM. The only pluses are that it looks pretty and is roughly 2/3 the DBA when running.

jonnycomputer 5d
Fire suppression is not the answer, though. North American ecosystems depend on regular fire to function. The increase in out-of-control wild fires on the west coast is a function of the coincidence of two trends: drought and a century of fire suppression and accumulating fuels.
mensetmanusman 5d
Highly recommend room air purifiers for your kids at least.

I like to tell new parents a trick that worked well for us: use a nice filter-based air purifier for white noise. It has deep bass, and it keeps the air near the child extremely clean. We have been doing this for our many kids for almost 10 years now since birth.

A fun experiment for kids: if you have a laser pointer, shine it close to the ground indoors and kick up dust near the floor. If you see any light in the air, that is all stuff you are breathing in (works really well on carpet)…

Air quality associated with:

Alzheimers: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-new-alzheimer...

Cancers, plural: https://www.aacr.org/patients-caregivers/progress-against-ca...

Sperm Quality: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4443398/#sec995...

Female Fertility: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2207560-exposure-to-air...

Autism: https://www.sciencealert.com/particulate-matter-in-air-pollu...

Bipolar/Depression: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/air-p...

jjcon 5d
Would having a few days of bad air a year due to forest fires be worse than camping a few days a year sitting next to a big campfire? Depends on if the fires are burning things other than trees?
throwaway1777 5d
Lest you think you are safe outside of the west there were wildfires in Massachusetts this year…
2devnull 5d
I wonder if this could help explain the sudden increase in excess mortality that has come about in the past year or two?
TurkishPoptart 5d
Is smoke inhalation really that deadly? Human beings for centuries gathered around bonfires and campfires. As far as I know, the lungs are designed to filter out (and you cough out) particulate matter.
tzs 5d
I was surprised by how many people go out on very bad air days without taking precautions.

We had a couple days or so here (Puget Sound area of Washington) with the AQI somewhere in the 150-200 range. I needed to go shopping on one of those days. I stepped outside and took a couple of breaths just to check how bad it was. It was terrible. I then put on a KN95 mask which made it a lot better and went to do my shopping.

Almost no one else I saw was wearing a mask.

When masks were still required for COVID around 98% of people I saw while shopping were wearing masks, so I'm pretty sure a majority here still have masks leftover from that.

Does it just not occur to them that those masks also help with wildfire smoke?

zamfi 5d
"Extreme" for the years since 2000, yes.

But folks living in cities in the 1970s-1990s were exposed to this level of particulate pollution almost half the year, not just a couple of weeks here and there.

For example, in 1980s Los Angeles, over 40% of the year had a modern AQI equivalent of 200+, "very unhealthy / hazardous air". [0]

None of this is to diminish the negative effects -- we know air quality is very important, it's why we've been fighting for it for decades.

[0] https://www.laalmanac.com/environment/ev01b.php