Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Where There's Smoke

Although the name of the blog is Disability Studies, Temple U., and Temple U. is in Philadelphia, you can learn from the sidebar that I'm not--I'm in Southern California. Redondo Beach is nowhere near any of the wildfires in the news, and we're not in any danger of evacuation or road closings here. But...

We're seeing ashfall. It's not Pompeii after the eruption of Vesuvius, but cars parked outside get a fine dusting. And if you look closely, there are ash particles floating around in the air everywhere. That means there must also be smaller-than-visible particles in every breath. Our Air Quality Index on the coast today is at U--U for "unhealthy." (There are actually two worse designations: V, for "very unhealthy," and H, for "hazardous.") Schools are advised to cancel outdoor physical activities. People are rubbing their eyes on every corner. Throats burn, and we're all coughing a lot. I'm keeping my little-used inhaler handy.

For most folks, it's a minor, temporary problem, and they're grateful that's all we're getting here. But for people with existing heart, lung, or other health conditions; for people whose jobs have them working outdoors all day; and for older people and little kids, this can be a serious, even life-threatening matter. So when you see the satellite images of the smoke plumes, or hear about how many square miles are burned, remember that a much wider area is affected by these events in less dramatic ways (no good television footage to gain from asthmatic gasping, or kids sitting indoors instead of having recess). And disabled people are often feeling it more than most.

5 comments:

Ruth said...

Definitely a serious issue for people with respiratory and other health concerns. It's also a reminder of what's going on not so far away - you are all physical witnesses to an overwhelming event in a very different way than those of us at a great distance. When the WTC was hit, the devastation was widespread across the tristate area. We all felt more vulnerable - knew people there, came close to being there for business or had relatives that were or might be there. (Kind of a six degrees of separation thing.) A friend of mine who commuted to NY city wound up being transported by ferry boat back to NJ, covered with soot, after wandering around the streets in a daze. He showed up at his mother's front door just like that, barely verbal except to say "I'm alive."

The "fallout" of soot, debris, etc. had a far reaching effect- and does with this too. My prayers to you and your neighbors.

imfunnytoo said...

Some of that ash may have already made it's way east...I'm having breathing problems today and there isn't much explanation for it.

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