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Friday Night Owls: Researchers in a Montana town find serious lasting effects from breathing smoke

OJAI, CA - DECEMBER 08: Flames rise as a fire front approaches the Lake Casitas area on December 8, 2017 near Ojai, California. Strong Santa Ana winds have been feeding major wildfires all week, destroying hundreds of houses and forcing tens of thousands of people to stay away from their homes. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week


At UnDark magazine, Katheryn Houghton writes—In Montana, Tracking Long-Term Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke:

[...] Forest fires had funneled hazardous air into Seeley Lake, a [Montana] town of fewer than 2,000 people, for 49 days. The air quality was so bad that on some days the monitoring stations couldn’t measure the extent of the pollution. The intensity of the smoke and the length of time residents had been trapped in it were unprecedented, prompting county officials to issue their first evacuation orders due to smoke, not fire risk.

Many people stayed. That made Seeley Lake an ideal place to track the long-term health of people inundated by wildfire pollution.

So far, researchers have found that people’s lung capacity declined in the first two years after the smoke cleared. Chris Migliaccio, an immunologist with the University of Montana, and his team found the percentage of residents whose lung function sank below normal thresholds more than doubled in the first year after the fire and remained low a year after that.

“There’s something wrong there,” Migliaccio said.

While it’s long been known that smoke can be dangerous when in the thick of it — triggering asthma attacks, cardiac arrests, hospitalizations, and more — the Seeley Lake research confirmed what public health experts feared: Wildfire haze can have consequences long after it’s gone.

That doesn’t bode well for the 78 million people in the western United States now confronting historic wildfires.

QUOTATION

“One of the paradoxes about demagoguery is that it is simultaneously shameless and obsessed with honor. Shaming them about being internally inconsistent, incapable of reasonable defenses, citing sources that actually contradict what they say - that puts front and center the cognitive dissonance between their shamelessness and their obsession with honor. None of these strategies work with people who are deep into conspiracy theories, nor with bots, nor with people paid to argue, but, at least in a public forum, pointing out what is happening can get some other people to walk away from demagoguery. Notice that I'm not saying you will thereby persuade them they are wrong. After all, they might not be. You might be wrong. You might both be wrong. You might both be somewhat right. You're trying to persuade them to engage in deliberation, and that means you have to be willing to engage in it, too.”
          ~~Patricia Roberts-Miller, Demagoguery and Democracy (2017)

TWEET OF THE DAY

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2004—Recap -- A Month of Shame, or, "GOP to Working Americans: Drop Dead":

The last 30 days or so were dominated by horse race coverage, RNC coverage, typewriter coverage, and (finally and thankfully) a growing awareness of the rapid deterioration of the already unstable situation in Iraq. But to my mind, the most memorable events of this last month didn't get the ink that those other issues did. The last 30 days provided us with two signature moments that really epitomize the unrelenting desire of the Republican Party to destroy the middle class of this country. 

First, in late August, the Bush Labor Department torched 60 years of overtime law to enact the biggest middle-class pay cut in American history. And now, in late September, the Republican Congress -- unsatisfied with merely slashing workers' pay -- has raised taxes on the poorest working Americans.

Congressional negotiators beat back efforts yesterday to expand and preserve tax refunds for poor families, even as they added $13 billion in corporate tax breaks to a package of middle-class tax cuts that could come to a vote in the Senate today. 

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: All eyes are still on SCOTUS. So Ian Reifowitz goes there, too. And does he ever go there! We did bleep him this time, which might actually be funnier. Trump fakes up both a "health care plan" and some "ballot fraud." Can demographics alone beat him?

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