“Wildfires leave behind more than scorched earth and destroyed homes: Rising smoke plumes can contain chemicals that disperse not only into the air but in soil, water, indoor dust, and even wildlife.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of more than 100 chemicals that can cause cancer and other ailments, is one of those ingredients. As the West continues to suffer more intense and destructive wildfires, the smoke from those fires needs to get a closer look, including how PAHs factor into the load, air experts said.
“It’s a situation where our governments are going to have to get used to dealing with that reality,” said Bill Magavern, policy director at the Coalition for Clean Air. “As we learn more about wildfire smoke, it’s important that people know there are these constituents that cause cancer, that cause cardiovascular disease.””