Smokey Skies Affect SRHS Community Health

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Smokey Skies Affect SRHS Community Health

Stephanie Gallegos, Contributor

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It all started on a Thursday afternoon on November 8th, 2018. Driving through Petaluma, smoke was visible. Friends were sending texts: a huge fire had erupted in Butte County near Chico, CA.

This fire is now called the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. Due to the huge effect it’s had on those who lived in the area and the large effect on the air quality which has vastly spread, the death toll has risen. The death toll has risen everyday within November. It went from 29 on the 11th to 56 on the 14th and as of November 19th there were a recorded 77 total deaths. The deaths are still expected to rise due to the amount of people that are still missing. As of November 19th, there were 993 people missing.

About 12,739 structures were destroyed within the 150,000 acres that were burned in Chico, CA. As of November 19th, only 65% of the fire had been contained. The fire is expected to be fully contained by November 30th.

On November 16th, school was cancelled due to the increase in bad air quality. It had reached around 205 on that day.

“We’re supposed to breathe in oxygen and nitrogen. Now you also have this particulate matter that your lungs do not like. And once you breathe those chemical irritants come in, they’re distributed throughout the body. Those irritants are not supposed to be in your body and that’s why people get headaches,” wrote Dr. Desmond Carson, the medical director of wellness center LifeLong Medical Care, in an article by CBS News.

“Some studies also have found increases in ER visits for heart attacks and strokes in people with existing heart disease on heavy smoke days during previous California wildfires, echoing research on potential risks from urban air pollution,” wrote Lindsey Tanner in an article for The Washington Post.  

Even though the air outside didn’t appear as bad as the other few days, it was still equally as bad because of the tiny atomic particles floating in the air. This can then lead to long-term health problems.

A senior, Jessica Chimal, said, “It affects me a lot because the current air quality is equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes. Also, as an athlete who plays basketball it affects me because our coach is making us do intensive practices, therefore I believe that school should’ve been cancelled or at least our practices could’ve been less intensive or cancelled as well.”

Another senior, Jocelyn Rojas, said, “As a low income student it affects me a lot, as I have to walk everyday to the bus, then get off at the transit center and walk to school. Teachers and some people that work in the office tell you to stay inside, but the smoke still affects us as we make our way to each class.”

“School should’ve been cancelled due to the bad air quality and it could worsen people’s current state of health,” said senior Catherine Avalos.

Mr. Springhorn, a physical education teacher, said, “The air quality has affected me as a teacher because since the week it started we’ve had to shorten any intense exercise to some light cardio and had to stay inside. I trust what the administration has done and I think it was a smart move to cancel school on Friday.”

An English teacher, Mr. Allan, had a few things to say about the effect it’s had on him and his students. He said, “It’s given me a headache, along with a sore throat which has come with a cold, making it hard to concentrate. In order to help reduce the exposure I’ve made 3 air purifiers, consisting of 3 fans with a filter in front of each. Teaching is already hard without a distraction and this just adds a new distraction.”

The school nurse wasn’t able to comment for this story.

Those who are healthy experience irritated eyes, sore throats, headaches,etc. To those with lung disease and asthma there was a much greater effect, making it harder to breathe and worsening their current state of health.

This year there have been multiple fires both big and small. Homes have been lost and damaged. People have gone missing and been found dead.

As these fires come frequently, they are worsening our air quality and damaging our planet. Money will be needed to help those who were affected, especially the evacuees.

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