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Health Information

​Wildfires are now a regular occurrence in California and can happen at any time of the year. Smoke from these wildfires often impacts the Sacramento Region. The amount of smoke and which areas are impacted is largely dependent on wind direction and can change throughout the day.

Wildfire smoke includes particulate matter (PM) that can cause serious health impacts. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles (known as PM 2.5 or fine particulate matter) pose the greatest problems because they bypass the body’s natural defenses and can get deep into your lungs and potentially your bloodstream. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Sac Metro Air District monitors PM 2.5 concentrations at several sites throughout Sacramento County.

Smoke is unhealthy to breathe. If you smell smoke, you are advised to remove yourself from the area or go indoors.

Long-term exposure to particulate pollution can result in significant health problems including:

  • Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing
  • Decreased lung function
  • Aggravated asthma
  • Development of chronic respiratory disease in children
  • Development of chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive lung disease
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nonfatal heart attacks
  • Premature death in people with heart or lung disease, including death from lung cancer

Short-term exposure to particulate pollution can:

  • Aggravate lung disease causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis
  • Increase susceptibility to respiratory infections
  • Cause heart attacks and arrhythmias in people with heart disease
  • Even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms, such as:
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

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