As fires are choking California, scientists have warned that firefighters are at a higher risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. According to researchers, the close proximity in which firefighters are staying in, and the pollution that is damaging their lungs are actually making them more vulnerable to the deadly pandemic.
How California Fires Make Firefighters Vulnerable
Scientists reveal that fires, of all kinds, contain carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter. Inhaling these particles could drastically damage the human lungs, and it could lead to serious respiratory issues.
Interestingly, coronavirus is a respiratory disease, and people with a weakened lung system could be at a higher risk of contracting with the virus. As firefighters inhaling polluted particles will have weak lungs, a coronavirus infection in their body could be more fatal.
Apart from this, camps of firefighters in California are congested, and as a result, practicing social distancing rules is practically impossible here.
"Two forces of nature are colliding in the western United States, and wildland firefighters are caught in the middle. Emerging research suggests that the smoke firefighters breathe on the front lines of wildfires is putting them at greater risk from the new coronavirus, with potentially lethal effects," wrote Luke Montrose, Assistant Professor of Community and Environmental Health at Boise State University in the Conversation.
Exposure to PM2.5 Air Pollution
Montrose revealed that very fine particles called PM2.5 will directly influence the risk of respiratory illness. These particles are 50 times smaller than a grain of sand, and it could travel deep into the lungs.
Citing a study conducted by Italian scientists, Montrose states that long-term exposure to PM2.5 air pollution, produced by sources including wildfires, power plants, and vehicles could make coronavirus deadly, and it could threaten the life of the infected person.
Montrose also predicted that coronavirus infection among firefighters could drastically increase by the end of this season of fires, especially considering the fact the repeated fires could weaken the immune system of a person.