In late November of this year, air quality in Davis reached unhealthy levels, prompting many schools to cancel classes until air quality improved. UC Davis was one of the first to close its campus due to health concerns on Tuesday November, 13th. While DJUSD closed campuses on Thursday of that week. What are the health effects of smoke, and why do they warrant closing down schools?
The fact is that particulate matter in the air can potentially be very dangerous, even with only short term exposure.Nathan Kwan, Da Vinci Environmental Science teacher, recommended that if you are bicycling in smoke you should try to get to your destination as quickly as possible without over exerting yourself. He also highly recommended purchasing a filtration mask.
Two main types of mask seem to be popular, both produced by 3M: the N95 and N99. Their names reflect the approximate percentage of pollutants of a size .2 microns or larger, 95% for the N95 and 99% for the N99. While this is good, it was estimated by the EPA that around 50% of the toxic particles in the air were smaller than that and also more dangerous.
The smaller particles can penetrate much deeper in the lungs than the larger ones and pose a threat to both healthy and unhealthy people alike. Some side effects include aggravation and swelling of the lung aolia. While a very small percentage of the side effects are permanent or life threatening, the EPA’s top recommendation is to stay inside as much as humanly possible.