Smoke from wildfires across the continental U.S. is stalling — in some places, reversing — years of progress on air quality.
A new study published in Nature found that since 2016, wildfire smoke has undone 25 percent of air quality improvements achieved since 2000.
“We’re not back to 2000 levels. But in some parts of the country we’re headed in that direction,” said Marshall Burke, the study’s lead author and professor of environmental policy at Stanford University.
That’s concerning because previous studies found that wildfire smoke is bad for human health. It’s not just that it exacerbates respiratory illnesses like asthma; breathing in wildfire smoke is also associated with an increased risk of cancer, heart attacks, and preterm birth.
“Basically we find that there is no safe level of exposure,” Burke said.
His latest study found that air pollution varied by state — in Oregon, wildfire smoke has become so s... Read more