Doctors fueled by hospital visits as toxic smoke engulfed the West Coast


A month after hundreds of wildlife spewed toxic fumes along the west coast, doctors are looking into the dangerous health effects of air pollution.

At Stanford Health Care System in Northern California, hospital admissions have increased by 12% in recent weeks, with an astonishing 43% increase in cerebrovascular conditions such as stroke. In Oregon, health officials reported that nearly one in 10 people who went to the emergency room had an asthma-like condition due to smoke. And in San Francisco, doctors had to cancel their clinics to recover Kovid-19 patients, because the air was so unhealthy that simply reaching their appointments could make patients more ill.

The growing body of scientific evidence contains a dire picture of the effects of wildfire smoke on the human body. Experts told the Guardian earlier this month that smoke could have an almost immediate impact on people’s health, leading to asthma, heart attacks, kidney problems, and even mental health issues.

Now, as the west coasts are with an unprecedented stretch of dangerous air, scientists and health experts are even more concerned about the immediate and long-term consequences of the continued risk of harmful pollution.

In the Bay Area, despite firefighters gaining control of nearby spots triggered by lightning strikes in August, foggy conditions persist, turning the sky orange and keeping people inside their homes.

“We are on the 30th consecutive day of our ‘Spare the Air’ alert,” said Christina Chu of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District on Wednesday. “It’s an all-time record,” he explained; The previous longest day was 14.

A pedestrian passes through the Villemette Bridge and downtown Portland, Oregon on Wednesday.
A pedestrian passes through the Villemette Bridge and downtown Portland, Oregon on Wednesday. Photo: Don Ryan / AP

Health officials in California said that the orange-brown air filled with dangerous small particles emitted by wildlife after a month, had a particular risk for hospitalization or even premature death.

The research director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford, Drs. “We now have a month of severe exposure to smoking and the levels are very high,” said Mary Prunicki.

At Stanford’s health centers, doctors told the Guardian that they had seen overall hospital troubles, as well as aggravating specific conditions.

Bibek Paudel, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford’s Asthma Clinic, has been using it since hospitalization. In the first two weeks after the Bay Area vented due to smoke pollution, he calculated that an additional 500 people were admitted to Stanford’s hospitals, which would normally be expected – two weeks earlier than the fire 12% more. After three weeks of poor air, he can detect a 14% increase in the number of hospitalized heart patients, an 18% increase in kidney status, and a 17% increase in asthma hospitalizations.

“The number of smoke and intense fires has increased,” he said, noting that the California fire season has just begun. “I hope it grows even more.”

The most dangerous finding was a 43% increase in stroke and other cerebrovascular hospitalizations, which may be related to inflammation caused by pollution, the researchers said.

The research also showed a 15% increase in hospitalizations for substance abuse disorders and a small uptick in other mental health hospitals.

“People were already dealing with the stress of the Kovid-19,” Pranky said. “And I read that the use of alcohol has increased. This may be just a tipping point. “

Prunicki said that researchers had begun to understand the many harmful effects that smoke content, known as Particulate Matter 2.5, have on the body.

“Fine Crystals [in the smoke] Go to the bottom of your lungs, then you can go anywhere in your body by crossing the bloodstream, ”said Pranki. She co-authored an earlier study that showed healthy teenagers also increase the amount of inflammation in their bloodstream when exposed to wildfire smoke.

“I don’t know that we’ve understood this on a cellular level, but we see dysregulation and we know that pollution is causing inflammatory changes throughout your body,” she said.

Scientists are still working to understand the long-term effects of wildfire smoke exposure, but firefighters’ studies have shown that they are healthier than the average person, despite higher rates of cancer than the general public Let’s face it.

In Oregon, residents were facing air pollution so severely that air quality index readings were “literally off the charts”, according to Gabriella Goldfarb, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Health Authority, which sought emergency treatment for asthma. Monitoring the increase in people seeking. Symptoms. Although any air quality index over 300 is considered “hazardous”, many communities living in the woods near the suburbs of Salem and Portland have experienced more than 500 readings.

On September 12, smoke fires in a forest fire over Pasadena, California.
On September 12, smoke fires in a forest fire over Pasadena, California. Photo: John Antacac / AP

Goldfarb says the health authority has studied over the years how to cope with the health toll of more frequent wildfires, which have been exacerbated by the climate crisis. Its recommendations include proposals to distribute air purifiers to low-income families and renters. But this year, the Oregon legislature was quickly dissolved due to the epidemic when the law was put to that. Now, she said, apart from staying at home, it is difficult to recommend safe options to the public – and people facing evacuation do not have that option either.

“Traditionally, people could go to their public libraries or local shopping centers to avoid smoking. But they are not available this year due to Kovid, ”she said.

Pulmonologist, University of California, Dr., who led both the chest clinic and the clinic to heal Kovid-19 patients at the General Hospital in San Francisco. Nita Thakur, said that smoke pollution presented a catch-22 for those concerned with the risk. Of coronovirus.

He said that one of his lung patients complained of shortness of breath to the hospital and was told that he would be taken to the emergency room immediately. But the patient, an older person, fears exposure to coronovirus. Two days later, the patient’s lung problems became so severe that he was brought by ambulance and placed in the ICU.

“There was definitely a delay in care for fear of an epidemic,” Thakur said, noting that the patient was recovering at home.

“We can see more of this,” said Thakur, who has had to cancel recent clinics for people recovering from Kovid and asthma patients due to poor air quality. “Trying to navigate these two health crises and telling people what to do is very difficult.”

He said that residents of low-income communities have been exposed to health risks due to poor quality housing.

“I can go in and get clean air,” she said. “But when you live in poor-quality housing, the bad air outside can come in.”

On Thursday, air quality experts predicted West Coast residents would eventually get a break as offshore winds blew smoke clouds into the air, spreading them to the East Coast.

Still, “we don’t think we’re clear yet for this fire season,” Goldfarb said. She predicted that thunderstorms could bring lightning and that more fires were likely to occur in Oregon; California air quality officials noted that the state may not see rain until November and smoke pollution may return by the end of this week.

“If there are people who need to leave the house and get some fresh air, we recommend they do it now,” said Chu of the Bay Area Air Quality District. “This is a new generic method that we are using.”

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