Smoke map

Laura asked if the smoke she was seeing in Carson City, NV is from the Big Meadow fire in Yosemite. Carson City is east of Lake Tahoe and south of Reno.

Yes, according to the map below. The smoke from the Big Meadow fire is going straight north to Lake Tahoe, Carson City, and Reno.

It looks like the folks in northern Idaho, Missoula, British Columbia, and Alberta have some air quality issues as well.

August 28, 2009. NOAA map

Can forest fire smoke be linked to kid's lower IQ scores?

Researchers have linked exposure to air pollution before birth with lower IQ scores in childhood. From an AP article:

The results are in a study of 249 children of New York City women who wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy. They lived in mostly low-income neighborhoods in northern Manhattan and the South Bronx. They had varying levels of exposure to typical kinds of urban air pollution, mostly from car, bus and truck exhaust.

At age 5, before starting school, the children were given IQ tests. Those exposed to the most pollution before birth scored on average four to five points lower than children with less exposure.

That’s a big enough difference that it could affect children’s performance in school, said Frederica Perera, the study’s lead author and director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.


In earlier research, involving some of the same children and others, Perera linked prenatal exposure to air pollution with genetic abnormalities at birth that could increase risks for cancer; smaller newborn head size and reduced birth weight. Her research team also has linked it with developmental delays at age 3 and with children’s asthma.

The researchers studied pollutants that can cross the placenta and are known scientifically as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Main sources include vehicle exhaust and factory emissions. Tobacco smoke is another source, but mothers in the study were nonsmokers.

The study does not mention smoke from forest fires. The subjects were exposed to urban air pollution, such as vehicle exhaust.

But they do point out that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PCH) can cross the placenta, and researchers HERE and HERE have identified PCH as being produced by forest fires. We don’t want to stir up a hornets nest, but if there is a link between PCH, forest fires, and low IQ scores, it could be an earth-shaking revelation. We can only hope that the PCH in forest fires is different from that found in vehicle exhaust, and is benign.

Firefighter/cancer link update

From FirefighterCloseCalls:

As you are aware, last week, the National League of Cities released an irresponsible, misleading and confusing document produced by a management consulting firm, TriData, incredibly claiming there is no relationship between fire fighting and certain cancers. The NLC has worked against every single piece of presumptive legislation that protects fire fighters and their families….and it appears they will go to any length on their mission to save their paying membership cities money…no matter what.

The IAFF and the IAFC are on this …and will be providing factual information related to the issues of fire fighting cancer. Both the IAFC and IAFF are ardent supporters of cancer presumption laws, and are deeply concerned about the impact this report (paid for by the NLC) may have on the truth and clear facts related to critical fire fighter protections, as well as future health and safety research.

The IAFC, through the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section, and the IAFF, have each assembled high-level teams consisting of doctorate-level academicians, medical physicians and fire service safety and health experts to thoroughly evaluate the report and provide a complete assessment and facts.

Please watch for more factual information via email, on the IAFF website, as well as the IAFC and IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section websites and related media..