Seeley Lake, Montana — Three years ago, a fire broke out in the state of Montana. This fire would then consume thousands of acres of land. A day after the smoke cleared out in the area, a group of researchers arrived in the town.
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Their plan was to chart how long it took for people to recover from living for seven weeks surrounded by relentless smoke.
They still don’t know, because most residents haven’t recovered. In fact, they’ve gotten worse.
Forest fires had funneled hazardous air into Seeley Lake, a town of fewer than 2,000 people, for 49 days. The air quality was so bad that on some days the monitoring stations couldn’t measure the extent of the pollution. The intensity of the smoke and the length of time residents had been trapped in it were unprecedented, prompting county officials to issue their first evacuation orders due to smoke, not fire risk.
So how bad does wildfire smoke affect our health? Very bad. Worse, it’s a long-term effect.
More details about this story over at Undark.
(Image Credit: National Park Service/ Wikimedia Commons)