Study shows Canadian wildfire smoke potentially more dangerous than car emissions pollution

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Rain has improved air quality in the Philadelphia region but wildfires are expected to be a problem throughout the summer and new research says that wildfire smoke is more dangerous than other pollution sources.

Scientists at Rutgers University say as that Canadian smoke travels into our area it heats up and collects toxins their new study says it’s significantly impacting air quality.

Smoke from Canadian wildfires is potentially more dangerous than pollution from car emissions, according to a new study from the Rutgers School of Public Health.

READ MORE: How did the Canadian wildfires start? A look at what caused the fires that are sending smoke across the U.S.

“It’s really problematic,” Jose Laurent said.

Laurent and a team from Rutgers analyzed air samples from the New Jersey and the Philadelphia region and found the smoke is pervasive on certain days depending on wind patterns.

Stahl: “If trees are burning in these wildfires how is that more toxic than emissions from cars?”

Laurent: “That initial smoke reacts with the air, reacts with the sun leading to a change in the chemical composition.”

The Rutgers research showed a dramatic increase in wildfire pollution this year peaking on June 7 and comparable to being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Rutgers Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute.

“It’s similar to what people experience in a bar before smoking bans,” Laurent said.

Doctors say wildfire smoke creates tiny particles that can travel deep into the airways.

“It’s an irritant in the lungs it may cause some vasoconstriction, may cause difficulty with breathing,” Dr. Craig Turner said.

Turner with Virtua Health says the smoke is especially dangerous for people with respiratory conditions.

READ MORE: How to keep pets safe from unhealthy air caused by Canadian wildfire smoke

“The biggest concern is patients with lower airway symptoms,” Turner said. “Patients with asthma and emphysema may have some increase respiratory difficulties,” Turner said.

Masks can help people in sensitive groups and also being inside but that isn’t completely protective.

“That pollution makes it indoors,” Laurent said.

Scientists say the fires are being fueled by global warming and they’re expected to continue.

“It’s not something that will disappear any time soon on the contrary it’s gonna get worse and worse,” Laurent said.

The CDC says air filters can help and people in sensitive groups should avoid being outside for a long time when there is an air quality alert.

Leave a Comment