Danger Beyond The Flames: Smoke Poses Widespread Health Risk

The wildfires burning across California, Oregon and Washington could have a serious impact on the health of those living hundreds of miles away. NBC's Sarah Dallof reports.

(NBC News) — The health impacts from the wildfires raging across several western states are reaching far beyond the flames, bringing dangerously bad air quality to neighboring states and beyond.

Sections of California, Oregon and Washington are currently breathing some of worst air in the world.

The smoke is spreading as far as Hawaii and the Midwest at points.

“The most damaging effect of the fire are these small particles that float in the air,” says Cedars-Sinai critical care pulmonologist Dr. Zab Mosenifar.

Dr. Mosenifar says when inhaled, those small particles can inflame the lungs and airways.

In the short term that causes chest tightness, shortness of breath and fatigue, and possibly even greater damage long term.

“If you are exposed for 12 hours of smoke in the air, then that is like 12 hours of continued smoking,” he notes.

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