Wildfire smoke is hurting pregnant moms and babies. Can California cities protect them?
This story is published collaboratively with the California Health Report as part of the Equitable Cities Reporting Hub for Environmental Justice, an initiative led by Grist and Next City.
Tania Pacheco-Werner put on her walking shoes. She was halfway through her first pregnancy and had just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Her doctor’s advice? Stay active.
But Pacheco-Werner lives just outside Fresno. It was summer, and well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The air outside was also thick with wildfire smoke from nearby forest fires — an increasingly common occurrence due to climate change.
The expectant mother wanted to do everything right, but was getting conflicting advice. On the one hand, she needed to walk and stay active to prevent complications from gestational diabetes; on the other, public health messaging about wildfires told her to stay inside and reduce her exposure to the smoke. So, what did she do?
Pacheco-Werner went to Walmart. Every day, her husband drove her to the nearby superstore so she could walk around and exercise indoors where the air felt cool and clean thanks to air-conditioning and filtration.
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