Carbon monoxide levels spike due to billowing smoke from wildfires fueled by climate change: Study

Edited By: Vyomica Berry
New Delhi, India Updated: Apr 19, 2022, 06:48 PM(IST)

Wildfire smoke lingers as trees burn during the French Fire in the Sequoia National Forest near Wofford Heights, California Photograph:( AFP )

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The wildfires in the US Pacific north-west have been fueled by climate change that is making the atmosphere drier and warmer

The US National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has found that carbon monoxide levels have spiked due to billowing smoke from wildfires in the last few years.

The wildfires in the US Pacific north-west have been fueled by climate change that is making the atmosphere drier and warmer.

According to project scientist Dr Rebecca Buchholz, “Our research contributes to the growing body of research that shows that fires, in particular Pacific north-west region fires – are becoming more important for North American air quality.”

“There is definitely a feedback between fires and climate. It is telling us that fires are compromising the ability of the atmosphere to self-clean,” she added.

During her analysis of carbon monoxide's impact on the atmospheric chemistry, between 2002 to 2018, she found how other sources of pollution may be connected to the flames.

When action is taken on the classical pollutants, particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide, it also has an impact on other damaging pollutants. 

Buchholz said that in the case of carbon monoxide, levels are dangerous at 10-20 parts per million (ppm), and symptoms become apparent above 70 ppm.

Also see | How climate change will impact the world's regions differently

Air contaminants are offsetting the recent reductions in emissions as per NCAR that is a US-funded research and development centre. 

While it is managed by the non-profit University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and it is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Scientists believe that exposure to carbon monoxide gas decreases the heart’s ability to contract in a way that is distinct from the effects of oxygen deprivation.

Patients with a history of moderate-to-severe carbon monoxide toxicity have higher rates of illness and death from heart disease years after carbon monoxide exposure.

(With inputs from agencies)

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