California Wildfires Produce Pollution of 35 Million Cars in Two Days / by Norris McDonald


In California alone more than 140,000 acres are burning in large, wildland fires throughout the state. In just the past two days, fires in California’s wine country are thought to have produced as much small particulate matter as all the vehicles in the state produce in a year.

Although the early estimates are rough, the fires in the wine country have probably produced about 10,000 tons of PM 2.5, an air pollutant that’s the main cause of haze in the United States.

By way of comparison, it takes the approximately 35 million on-road vehicles in California a year to generate a similar amount of PM 2.5.

The amount of smoke is significant because PM 2.5 is associated with respiratory and cardiovascular problems in people.  

Smoke from the thousands of structures burned in some of the fires can be even more hazardous than typical wildfire smoke.  It is a little bit different because they had so many structures burn, that is a different fuel mixture ... a lot of that stuff has toxic emissions associated with it.  The smoke and fumes will be most hazardous to the people closest to the burning.  (USA Today, 10/11/2017)