Wildfire smoke is exposing millions of Americans to extreme pollution levels
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.
Maybe this site should be called 'ClimateChange News' instead of Hacker News.
> ...“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...
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?
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.
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:
Cancers, plural: https://www.aacr.org/patients-caregivers/progress-against-ca...
Female Fertility: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2207560-exposure-to-air...
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?
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". 
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.