Thanks to last year's Cameron Peak Fire and this year's secondhand wildfires, every Northern Coloradan knows what wildfire smoke smells like.

In fact, Colorado's current air quality is one of the worst in the world right now — but if we can't smell it anymore, is it still dangerous?

The experts say yes.

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According to Voice of America (VOA) Learning English, wildfire smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemical compounds, especially if manufactured materials are involved in the fire. As the smoke travels, it will lose its odor, but it won't lose those toxins.

"It is certainly unhealthy," Jeff Pierce, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, told the publication, noting that those with asthma or other respiratory conditions should avoid going outside.

However, Coloradans likely already know this. A study conducted by Pierce and CSU scientist Sheryl Magzamen shows that people who live near wildfires are more likely to be prepared for the dangers of smoke.

Still, it is important to practice the following tips:

  • Follow air quality alerts — the City of Fort Collins issued one on Saturday (Aug. 7).
  • Avoid outdoor activities, especially those that may induce heavy breathing.
  • Keep doors and windows closed.
  • Clean inside air with an air filter.
  • Consider donning a mask again. N95 masks are the most effective.

Fort Collins' air quality is currently at an "unhealthy" level. If you're experiencing eye irritation, difficulty breathing, and coughing fits, you're not alone. Thankfully, this won't last forever — a cold front is expected to help clear the skies this weekend.

2020 Cameron Peak Fire


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