The West Coast is looking at a future where cities are enveloped with smoke every summer. The health effects could be serious.
As massive wildfires burn in California and Oregon, the air has been filled with so much smoke that air quality ratings in some places have literally gone off the charts. The EPA’s Air Quality Index, which gives an air quality score based on the level of pollutants such as PM 2.5, the tiny particles produced by burning wood, considers a reading of 200 unhealthy and 300 hazardous, creating emergency conditions. In Bend, Oregon, this weekend, the official AQI value was over 500. In Eugene last week, PurpleAir, a network of backyard sensors, registered readings over 700.
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