Wildfires are becoming more common and severe due to climate change and the warmer and drier conditions, in Wyoming and across the West. Now, health experts are warning that people exposed to wildfire smoke are also at increased risk for COVID-19 infection. Cheryl Pirozzi is a pulmonary physician with University of Utah Health. She says the overlap of wildfire season with the coronavirus pandemic has sharply increased health risks.
Pirozzi said, “Wildfire smoke itself has harmful health effects, and there’s a growing body of research showing that air pollution exposure increases risk for COVID-19 infection, and more severe disease or more deaths.”
She says wildfire smoke includes a complex mixture of dangerous particulate pollution, which can cause inflammation and suppress the body’s natural immune system – increasing the risk for respiratory viral infections, including COVID-19. Pirozzi says the best way to protect yourself against the smoke is to reduce exposure. She says if possible, avoid outdoor activity during poor air-quality days.
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