When we think of causes of the spread of the virus, we think, no social distancing, irresponsible people, or no masks. We don’t think of wildfire smoke. But recent news and cases have shown that wildfire smoke has a link to the spread of the Covid-19 virus. According to Kron4, “One expert at UCSF says he is not surprised by the study because he warned of the potential link more than a year ago.
“Wildfire smoke irritates the airway lining and the lining of the air sack. That’s exactly what happens with COVID,” Dr. John Balmes, UCSF Professor of Medicine, said. UCSF Professor of Medicine Dr. John Balmes adds wildfire smoke causes irritation and inflammation of the lung and that sets the stage for a bad response to the coronavirus.”
Using satellite data, researchers were able to gather information relating the two different events together. Researchers used satellite data and found bad wildfire smoke days showed strong associations with COVID cases and deaths from March through December of 2020. Authors of the Harvard University study found similar results. Palo Alto Onlines states, “they found evidence linking smoke from wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington in 2020 to rising COVID-19 cases and deaths. They said that smoke carries with it fine particulate matter — or PM 2.5, known to have adverse effects on health — which acts as a vehicle for spreading infection even faster and making existing cases worse.”
This may seem terrible and extremely dangerous-which it is- but Dr. John Balms has many tips to stay safe from this new method of the virus spreading. “The first step is vaccination, which Balmes called “the best thing to control the pandemic.” Then stay indoors when smoke is visible, or has been in the area recently, and wear a high-quality mask. “If you have to go outside, wear an N95 mask,” Balmes said. “A cloth mask does nothing for wildfire smoke. A surgical mask maybe reduces the smoke by 20%.” An N95 mask filters out PM 2.5, he said, and if those are unavailable, a KN95 mask is a second-best choice, although he warned that consumers need to be careful about counterfeit KN95 masks.”