A Red Sky, Wildfire Smoke, and the Unexpected Consequences

Personal encounter with wildfire smoke and its unexpected consequences: increased COVID-19 risk, health impacts, and the importance of precautions.


7/21/20233 min read

canadian wildfire smoke drifting into the air
canadian wildfire smoke drifting into the air

A Red Sky, Wildfire Smoke, and the Unexpected Consequences

About a month ago, New Yorkers woke up to a surreal sight - a bright red sky. The cause? Smoke from wildfires in Canada had drifted over the city, turning the sky an eerie shade of red. Four days later, on the other side of the country in California, I had a personal encounter with this drifting smoke that left me with an intense tingling sensation, particularly in my lungs.

I had stepped outside to bring in the trash cans when I first noticed the sensation. At first, I was puzzled. What could be causing this strange feeling? Then it hit me - the wildfire smoke. I remembered the images of the red sky in New York and realized that the smoke from Canada's wildfires must have drifted over to California.

A quick online search confirmed my suspicions. But what I discovered next was even more alarming. According to a study published in Bloomberg, wildfire smoke can increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. The particles in the smoke can carry the virus further and make it more likely for people to get infected. I was stunned. Could this be why I was feeling this way?

Further research led me to an article in The Mercury News, which stated that wildfire smoke can be up to 10 times more harmful than other air pollution. The smoke from wildfires contains a mix of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other materials. This smoke can irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, cause coughing and shortness of breath, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.

Sure enough, a week later, I tested positive for COVID-19. The first sign was a sore that popped up in the middle of my tongue - a symptom that I've come to recognize as a precursor to a COVID-19 infection in my case. Looking back, I can't help but wonder if the wildfire smoke played a role in this. According to The New York Times, the drifting smoke from wildfires can indeed increase the risk of COVID-19. The smoke weakens our immune system and makes us more susceptible to respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

The experience was a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of our world. A wildfire in Canada can have far-reaching effects, impacting air quality thousands of miles away and potentially increasing the risk of COVID-19. It's a sobering thought, especially considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires due to climate change.

Now, more than ever, it's crucial for us to take precautions to protect our health. Wearing masks, especially during wildfire season, can help protect us from the harmful effects of wildfire smoke and reduce the risk of COVID-19. Staying informed about the air quality in our area and taking steps to improve indoor air quality can also help.

For up-to-date coverage of the wildfire smoke, I recommend checking out this [interactive map] from The New York Times. It provides real-time updates on the wildfires and the direction of the smoke. I can guarantee you that more than 70% of the people that are still walking around maskless have no clue that the wildfire smoke is constantly being wafted into the United States and that now more than ever is the most important time in your lives to mask up and prevent the future damage of your lungs with this toxic polluted wildfire air that is coming from Canada.

As I continue my recovery from COVID-19, I can't help but reflect on this experience. It's been a stark reminder of the unexpected challenges that can arise in our rapidly changing world. But it's also reinforced the importance of resilience, adaptability, and taking proactive steps to protect our health.

In sharing my story, I hope to raise awareness about the potential risks associated with wildfire smoke and the importance of taking precautions. We may not have control over wildfires or the direction of the smoke, but we can control how we respond and the steps we take to protect our health and wellbeing.