Bad Air Quality Affects Water Quality
Air Quality Affects Water Quality
From the chemicals that are used to contain wildfires, to the toxic ash that is left in the wake, fires greatly affect our environment.
Most notably, you can smell and see the smoke and ash in the air. Less noticeable, but equally harmful, are the effects on the quality of our drinking water.
One can think of wildfires as nature’s way of rebirth and starting anew. It is sad to see the charred side of a rural mountain burned. It’s another to see the more devastating impact when fires make their way into populated, developed areas. The environmental consequences of fires in urban areas are much greater because of the household items burned. Just think of all the items in your home that are not meant to be burned. Appliances, insulation, plastics, and electronics are just a few things that initially come to mind.
Ash And Smoke All Over
Unfortunately, consequences of fires extend far beyond the burned remains. The toxic ash from urban burns (house fires) effects people near and far from the fires. People that live in areas unaffected by fires can still have negative consequences because the jet stream carries ash thousands of miles.
Effect On Wildlife
Environmental toxins are sometimes too much for animals, especially tinier little critters. For instance, recently hundreds of dead fish popped up in a lake in Agoura Hills, CA.
Thousands of dead birds are being discovered in the Southwest. Some in Colorado and New Mexico say the birds may have died from an early cold snap, but perhaps poor air quality from the smoke is the likelier culprit.
In 2019, when Berkeley fire fighters used chemicals to prevent a gas tank explosion, one disaster was averted only to cause another. Hundreds of fish died from the chemicals that were used to combat the fire.
Effect On Water Supply
This is a great, short video explaining the effects of ash and fires on water supply.
“As wildfires become more frequent and destructive in a warming world, they are increasingly leaving in their wake debris and toxic runoff that are polluting rivers and fouling water supplies. Some municipalities are having to upgrade their water treatment methods to counter the new danger…..with fires burning bigger, hotter, and more frequently, scientists say the threats to water supplies and aquatic systems are bound to escalate.”
– Yale School of Environment
You can read the full article here.
The Australian 2019-20 brushfires caused unprecedented problems for water quality. After the fires there, the quality of the water was so poor that Canberra was forced to build a new water treatment plant.
The North Complex fire in Northern California has unfortunately burned a large segment of the Lake Oroville watershed. Although it is unknown exactly how it will affect the water quality, one possibility is an increase in algae blooms. People who swim in the water, fish who live in the water, and farmers who use the water for irrigation will all be potentially be effected. Approximately 25 million people are supplied drinking water from this area.
Bottom Line – Be Proactive With Your Water Quality
Don’t rely on the government to add more legislation and regulation on water quality. Protect your family now by installing a point of use and a whole house filter to improve the water quality in your home.
2020 Is Rough
It’s been a doozy, and it’s just one thing after the next. Most people have been mildly effected by these fires, with smokey air no matter where you are. But, our honest and true heartfelt condolences go out to those who have been impacted first hand by the wildfires across the west. I personally know four families that were evacuated in the last month. Thankfully, their homes still stand.