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Smoke from Dixie Fire in California impacting air quality across the US

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Posted at 2:56 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 14:56:30-04

The Dixie Fire in Plumas County, California, is the state's second-largest in history, and smoke from the blaze is impacting air quality across the country.

The smoke turned the air in Salt Lake City and Denver into some of the most dangerous in the world over the past week, according to IQAir, which globally ranks air quality and pollution.

Air quality on the East Coast is even ranked as moderate.

But there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

“We encourage you to take steps such as getting portable cleaners for one or more of your rooms and keeping your windows and doors closed as much as possible to keep that clean air in,” said Jocelyn Hillard, a Red Cross spokesperson who is currently on the ground in Plumas County.

Hillard says other things to avoid when air quality is bad are cooking fried food, vacuuming, and using gas-powered appliances.

A recent study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology links wildfire smoke to the susceptibility of getting COVID-19.

Researchers found Reno, Nevada, which was hit hard last year by wildfire smoke, had an 18% higher COVID-19 positivity rate than cities not exposed to high levels of smoke.

It’s another reason why it’s so important to take steps in avoiding anything that could start a wildfire, especially so the devastation and loss people in California are facing right now doesn’t spread.

“I’ve met people here at this facility that have evacuated and gone home. Next two days, they're back out evacuating. Now, one of them is here for the last three weeks. So, it's a lot of unknowns what's going to happen tomorrow, ‘Will I be OK? Will my pets be OK?’” said Hillard.

The Red Cross has mental health counselors stationed at shelters to help people going through this. If you'd like to help with wildfire relief efforts, you can click here.