Increasing air pollution because of the recent wildfires poses a threat to lung health and may increase the chances of contracting COVID-19. (Photo by Kanishka Mehra/Photo editor. Photo illustration by Emily Dembinski/Illustrations director)
California’s wildfire smoke and COVID-19 could create an unforeseen mixture of adverse health effects for the state’s residents, UCLA medical faculty said.
Although little is known about long-term exposure to air pollutants like wildfire smoke and its particulates, there are preliminary studies that show the number and severity of COVID-19 cases are higher in areas with high air pollution, said Stephanie Christenson, a doctor and an assistant professor of pulmonology at UC San Francisco.
Air quality in Los Angeles is projected to remain unhealthy throughout the week because of several nearby wildfires, including the Bobcat fire.
Los Angeles has an Air Quality Index rating of 130 as of Thursday, which is considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” according to IQAir.
This post was updated June 10 at 9:24 a.m. to reflect updates from the Los Angeles Fire Department.
A fire broke out near Getty Center Drive on Wednesday at about midnight on the east side of the 405 Freeway.
The Los Angeles controller recommended new measures to monitor and prevent wildfires with causes related to power utilities.
Ron Galperin, the LA controller or chief accounting officer, released his report assessing the fire safety efforts of the LA Department of Water and Power, the largest publicly owned utility company in the country, on Wednesday.
If a wildfire threatened UCLA, administrators plan to defend the campus rather than evacuate all students.
Michael Beck, administrative vice chancellor, said UCLA has an agreement with the Los Angeles Fire Department to provide sufficient resources to ensure campus safety, particularly for student housing facilities.
A flying branch likely sparked the Getty fire when it crashed onto nearby power lines on Sepulveda Boulevard.
The branch likely broke off during high wind conditions and landed on the power lines, causing sparks and arcing to ignite a nearby bush, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Fire Department Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section.
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