How Far Can Wildfire Smoke Travel?

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How Far Can Wildfire Smoke Travel?

Posted by Nabi White on 08/13/2021


Wildfires have been ravaging the United States and other parts of the world over the past few months, leaving destruction and devastation in their wake. For those who live in wildfire-prone areas, dealing with these disasters is an all too common occurrence. But what many people don’t realize is that wildfire smoke can travel a surprisingly long distance. You don’t need to be immediately in the path of a wildfire to suffer from ill-health as a side effect of inhaling smoke.

 

How Far Can Wildfire Smoke Actually Travel?

To understand exactly how far smoke has the ability to travel, we need to understand how high up in our atmosphere it can go. The higher smoke is, the further it can travel. Smoke is released into the air as a wildfire burns, and wildfires reach greater heights in the atmosphere when they burn more intensely. Smoke has the ability to travel a very long distance when it reaches high enough altitudes. In fact, a storm cloud (known as Pyrocumulonimbus) may form when smoke from a fire causes an explosion. This smoke can then be sent into the stratosphere over 5 miles above the surface of the earth. That’s a lot of altitude, which means the smoke has the ability to travel great distances. Of course, this means that, unlike smoke trapped at higher altitudes, smoke at lower altitudes is less likely to travel across the country and the globe. Typically, lower-altitude smoke only affects the nearby local communities within a short distance of the fire.

But it’s not only explosions that drive smoke high up into the atmosphere. Smoke can reach very high altitudes from larger, more powerful wildfires. It is possible for smoke to travel thousands of miles through the stratosphere. So far, in fact, that images of wildfire smoke have been captured from space. Changing weather patterns can move this dangerous smoke thousands of miles away from the wildfire and affect air quality in entirely different locations from where the fire is actually burning. Yes, wildfire smoke can travel thousands of miles. In fact, it’s common for fires that are burning on the West Coast, such as in California, to travel all the way to the East Coast, even affecting residents of New York City. Eric James, a senior associate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states in an NBC article that  “If you have that much smoke being put into the western atmosphere, it’s almost always going to make it to the East Coast unless something very unique happens with the wind.”

So, you don’t have to live in a wildfire-prone area to be in danger of suffering negative health consequences from smoke. Those living in all parts of the country, particularly anyone in the path of winds carrying smoke, can feel its effects. Thus, you should monitor air quality if you live in any area where smoke inhalation from wildfires may be a problem. This is particularly true for anyone with pre-existing health conditions that make them more susceptible to the effects of wildfire smoke, such as those who suffer from lung and health problems, elderly individuals, children who are developing their respiratory system, and pregnant women.

 

How to Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke

The best way to keep yourself safe is to monitor the quality of the air you breathe. This means using an air purifier to clean and freshen the air, as well as remove harmful smoke particles. But not just any old air purifier will work for preventing the effects of wildfire smoke on yourself and others. With a high-performance air cleaner like the Filtr Revolution, smoke, nanoparticles, and chemicals are all removed from the air. The Filtr Revolution’s cleanroom-grade HEPA filter and four-stage air restoration process remove harmful smoke particles from the air you breathe. Activated carbon filters work in conjunction with an antimicrobial pre-filter and a cleanroom grade HEPA filter to ensure a high level of air purification. In addition, bipolar ionization produces positively and negatively charged particles to remove harmful smoke compounds. Remember, a quality air purifier like Filtr can remove higher volumes of smoke particles and chemicals from your indoor environment, versus creating a false sense of security using lesser quality and more mass-manufactured purifiers that do not live up to their claims under real life conditions.

 

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