Air Quality & Fire Season: Ways to Protect Your Health

Smoke from wildfires burning Northern California drifts over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on August 19, 2021. Photo Courtesy: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In recent years, the western United States has experienced some of the most destructive wildfires on record. To make matters worse, since 2016 researchers have found that so-called wildfire "seasons" have become longer — and more severe — every year as a result of reduced rainfall and snowpack melt and, of course, climate change. 

In addition to the life-threatening flames, the smoke from wildfires can also lead to unhealthy air quality. Not only is this detrimental for folks with pre-existing lung and breathing conditions, but, overtime, breathing air with unhealthy levels of pollutants and particulates can lead to health issues. To protect yourself, there are several steps you can take — and we've rounded them up here.