Please help keep this Site Going

Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


India: How is climate change impacting menstrual health?

When Super Cyclone Amphan hit India’s coast in 2020, 28-year-old Suchitra Jana, along with her family, moved to a government shelter where she found herself among the 800-odd people taking refuge at the camp. While she stayed at the cramped…

How wildfire smoke can harm your health, even from far away

View looking at a skyline with smoke below some of the towers and in the sky, creating a red sun.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Michael Enright captured this image of Denver, Colorado, on May 23, 2023. Michael wrote: “Smoke over Denver early this morning.” Thank you, Michael. Read on to learn how wildfire smoke can affect human health from hundreds of miles away.

Christopher T. Migliaccio, University of Montana

Smoke from more than 200 wildfires burning across Canada has been turning skies hazy in North American cities far from the flames. We asked Chris Migliaccio, a toxicologist at the University of Montana who studies the impact of wildfire smoke on human health, about the health risks people can face when smoke blows in from distant wildfires.

What’s in wildfire smoke that’s a problem?

When we talk about air quality, we often talk about PM2.5. That’s particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller … small enough that it can travel deep into the lungs.

Exposure to PM2.5 from smoke or other air pollution, such as vehicle emissions, can exacerbate health conditions like asthma. It can also reduce lung function in ways that can worsen existing respiratory problems and even heart disease.

But the term PM2.5 only tells you about size, not composition. What is burning can make a significant difference in the chemistry.

A map of North America with wildfire smoke from fires across the U.S. and eastern Canada. Light smoke reached as far south as Texas and Georgia.
Smoke from wildfires in Canada spread across a large part of the U.S. as of May 22, 2023. Even smoke high in the air reached places as far south as Texas and Georgia. Image via

In the northern Rockies, where I live, vegetation fuels most fires. But not all vegetation is the same. If the fire is in the wildland urban interface, manufactured fuels from homes and vehicles may also be burning. And that’s going to create its own toxic chemistry, as well. Chemists often talk about volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, which result when biomass and other matter burn) having the potential to harm human health.

How does inhaling wildfire smoke harm human health?

If you have ever been around a campfire and got a blast of smoke in your face, you probably had some irritation. With exposure to wildfire smoke, you might get some irritation in the nose and throat and maybe some inflammation. If you’re healthy, your body, for the most part, will be able to handle it.

As with a lot of things, the dose makes the poison. Almost anything can be harmful at a certain dose.

Generally, cells in the lungs, called alveolar macrophages, will pick up the particulates and clear them out … at reasonable doses. It’s when the system gets overwhelmed that you can have a problem.

Illustration of a small section of lungs showing different elements labeled.
Macrophages are in alveoli, which are tiny air sacs in the lungs. Image via The Conversation.

One concern is that smoke can suppress macrophage function, altering it enough that you become more susceptible to respiratory infection. A colleague who looked at lag time in the effect of wildfire smoke exposure found an increase in influenza cases after a bad fire season. Studies in developing countries have also found increases in respiratory infections with people who are cooking on open fires in homes.

The stress of an inflammatory response can also exacerbate existing health problems. Being exposed to wood smoke won’t independently cause someone to have a heart attack. But if they have underlying risk factors, such as significant plaque buildup, the added stress can increase the risk.

Researchers are also studying potential effects on the brain and nervous system from inhaled particulate matter.

Long-distance smoke and toxicity

When smoke blows over long distances, does its toxicity change? We know that the chemistry of wildfire smoke changes. The longer it’s in the atmosphere, the more ultraviolet light will alter the chemistry. But we still have a lot to learn.

Researchers have found that there seems to be a higher level of oxidation, so oxidants and free radicals are being generated the longer smoke is in the air. The specific health effects aren’t yet clear, but there’s some indication that more exposure leads to greater health effects.

The supposition is that more free radicals are generated the longer smoke is exposed to UV light, so there’s a greater potential for health harm. A lot of that, again, comes down to dose.

A photo looking out at the Denver skyline shows a very hazy city.
Denver was listed among the world’s worst cities for air pollution on May 19, 2023, largely because of the wildfire smoke from Canada. Image via Colorado Air Pollution Control Division.

Chances are, if you’re a healthy individual, going for a bike ride or a hike in light haze won’t be a big deal, and your body will be able to recover.

If you’re doing that every day for a month in wildfire smoke, however, that raises more concerns. I’ve worked on studies with residents at Seeley Lake in Montana who were exposed to hazardous levels of PM2.5 from wildfire smoke for 49 days in 2017. We found a decrease in lung function a year later. No one was on oxygen, but there was a significant drop.

This is a relatively new area of research, and there’s still a lot we’re learning, especially with the increase in wildfire activity as the planet warms.

Take precautions to reduce your risk from wildfire smoke

If there is smoke in the air, you want to decrease your exposure.

Can you completely avoid the smoke? Not unless you’re in a hermetically sealed home. The PM levels aren’t much different indoors and out unless you have a really good HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system, such as those with MERV 15 or better filters. But going inside decreases your activity, so your breathing rate is slower and the amount of smoke you’re inhaling is likely lower.

A satellite animation shows smoke moving from fires in Alberta across Canada and into New England.
A satellite captures wildfire smoke on May 16, 2023. Image via NASA EarthData.

We also tend to advise people that if you’re in a susceptible group, such as those with asthma, create a safe space at home and in the office with a high-level stand-alone air filtration system to create a space with cleaner air.

Some masks can help. It doesn’t hurt to have a high-quality N95 mask. Just wearing a cloth mask won’t do much, though.

Most states have air quality monitors that can give you a sense of how bad the air quality is, so check those sites and act accordingly.The Conversation

Christopher T. Migliaccio, Research Associate Professor in Toxicology, University of Montana.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Bottom line: Wildfire smoke can affect human health even from far away. Learn how to take precautions to reduce your risk.

Read more: Canadian wildfires continue to rage with a smoky central U.S.

Read more: Why wildfires create red suns and moons

Submission on Synthetic Turf to Moonee Valley Council for JH Allan Reserve

The following submission to Moonee Valley Council was made 22 March 2023 regarding a plan to redevelop JH Allan Reserve, including a proposal to turn open space natural grass sports field to a synthetic turf soccer pitch.  I followed my…

Quantifying the human cost of global warming – Nature Sustainability

Abstract The costs of climate change are often estimated in monetary terms, but this raises ethical issues. Here we express them in terms of numbers of people left outside the ‘human climate niche’—defined as the historically highly conserved distribution of…

Biden Admin Is Crippling America With No Tangible Benefit For The Climate

Among the most fascinating aspects of the “climate change” discussion is that anyone actually believes the government and government-funded think tanks, academia, media, and “scientists” living off government grants. This brings to mind more than a few questions. These are…

‘Peace of mind at last’: the Bangladeshi villagers digging their way out of the floods

Hamida Khatun is sick of moving. The 60-year has been displaced about 20 times during her life, always as a result of climate disasters. “They seem to follow me wherever I go,” she says. But in 2019, the floods were…

Life-Saving Breakthrough for Antibiotics Uses Shapeshifting Chemistry that Won 2022 Nobel Prize

VRSA under a microscope

New shape-shifting antibiotics could fight deadly medically-resistant bacterial infections responsible for more than 1.2 million deaths worldwide every year, according to a new study.

The antibiotic can shape-shift by rearranging its atoms, using new “click” chemistry, a discovery that won the 2022 Nobel Prize.

The drug’s creator, Professor John Moses at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), New York, found that bullvalene, a fluxional hydrocarbon molecule where atoms can swap positions to form around 1 million combinations, could be used as the molecular center of an antibiotic that would confer such shape-shifting abilities to the drug as well.

Bacterial infections like Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) have developed resistance to the potent antibiotic vancomycin, used to treat diseases from skin infections to meningitis.

“The reengineering of clinically approved antibiotics to evade resistance mechanisms offers a potential near-to short-term solution that takes advantage of established supply chains and clinical success,” Moses and his co-authors wrote in their demonstration paper in PNAS. 

Dr. Moses used new click chemistry—where chemical reactions can “click” molecules together reliably—to combine bullvalene with vancomycin.

MORE POTENTIAL CURES: Plant Toxins Fatal to Sugarcane Hailed as the ‘New Weapon’ Antibiotic in Fight Against Bacteria

Professor Moses created a new antibiotic with two vancomycin “warheads” and a fluctuating bullvalene center, before giving the drug to a VRSA-infected wax moth larvae, a common test dummy for antibiotics.

The shape-shifting antibiotic was significantly more effective than vancomycin at clearing the deadly infection, and the bacteria did not develop resistance to the drug.

MORE DRUG DEVELOPMENTS: These Flabby Gel Robots Could Deliver Life-Saving Drugs by Inching Along Using Changes in Temperature

Dr. Moses believes click chemistry can create a host of new shape-shifting drugs “key to our species’ survival.”

“It gives you certainty and the best chance you’ve got of making complex things,” said Moses. “If we can invent molecules that mean the difference between life and death. That’d be the greatest achievement ever.”

SHARE This Interesting Attempt To Roll Back Antibiotic Resistance… 

Fungal attacks threaten global food supply, say experts

Fast-rising fungal attacks on the world’s most important crops threaten the planet’s future food supply, scientists have said, warning that failing to tackle fungal pathogens could lead to a “global health catastrophe”. Fungi are already by far the biggest destroyer…

Save the Frogs Day is this Friday, April 28

Save the frogs: green yellow frogs green lily pad white and black words.
Held every April 28, Save the Frogs Day is a global conservation effort to slow the decline of amphibian populations and their habitats. The 2023 event is this Friday. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the loss of amphibians is not due to a single cause, and solutions will require a range of responses. Image via

Help! EarthSky needs your support to continue. Our yearly crowd-funding campaign is going on now. Donate here.

Save the frogs … save the humans?

Our froggy friends are in big trouble and need our help.

The Amphibian Survival Alliance pulls no punches in describing the desperate crisis:

Around half of all amphibian species are declining, and the proportion threatened with extinction is thought to be over 40%, making amphibians the most threatened vertebrate group. Once a sanctuary for over 8,000 species, we now live in a world that is increasingly unsafe for amphibians. A world that is unsafe for amphibians is unsafe for other species, not least humankind.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), an “unabated” decline in frog populations – and amphibians in general – began in the U.S. in the 1960s and continues to today. Currently, the number of amphibians in the U.S. is falling at 3.79% annually.

Fixing a global problem requires a worldwide effort. So, this Friday, April 28, 2023, everyone can – and should – join in during the 15th annual Save the Frogs Day.

All-hands-on-deck to save the amphibians

While the loss of such charismatic creatures is disheartening, the response doesn’t need to be. That’s why in 2008, Dr. Kerry Kriger founded the nonprofit Save the Frogs! foundation, sponsor of Save the Frogs Day.

Save The Frogs Day is the world’s largest day of amphibian education and conservation action. Our goal is to provide frog enthusiasts with educational materials, ideas and inspiration and empower them to educate their local communities about amphibians.

Find a 2023 event for April 28; there are opportunities around the world

The foundation’s key event is meant to be fun and solution-oriented. In fact, there have been thousands of past local happenings on Save the Frog Day in 58 different countries. For example, these have included parades, art exhibits, habitat restoration projects and even protests.

Save the Frogs Day has grown in popularity each year, probably because, in the words of late comedian Mitch Hedberg, “frogs are always cool.” And, as Hedberg noted, they inspire enthusiasm:

It’s always like optimistic, like, “Hey, here comes that frog! Alright! Maybe he will settle near me.”

Brown frog with stripes green reed dark background.
A suspicious-looking horned marsupial frog (Gastrotheca cornuta) clings to a reed in a wetland near El Cope, Panama, in 2002. Amphibians – and frogs in particular – are in sharp decline around the globe. The annual Save the Frogs Day held every April 28 ( is a global effort to raise awareness and encourage people to take action to protect threatened species and their habitats. Image via National Science Foundation.

Reasons for Save the Frogs Day

Frogs and their cousins don’t get the credit they deserve. The froggy foundation says they make a genuine contribution to the quality of human existence.

Amphibians provide an array of ecosystem services, and knowledge of amphibians has led to numerous advances in human medicine. Plus frogs look and sound cool, and kids love them …

One of the “ecosystem services” frogs are famous for is eating bugs, especially flying insects. That means when amphibian populations bomb, their prey species, like mosquitoes, can boom.

A study published in September 2022 in the journal Environmental Research Letters described the aftermath of mass amphibian die-offs due to a fungal infection in Central America. Loss of amphibians, researchers discovered, correlated directly with a rise in cases of deadly malaria.

This wave traveled from northwest to southeast across Costa Rica from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s and then continued eastward across Panama through the 2000s. After this rolling collapse of amphibian populations, both countries experienced large increases in malaria cases.

The fungus attacking amphibians is chytridiomycosis. And it’s spreading around the globe. Amphibiaweb described the fungal disease as the current greatest danger to amphibians:

The causes for recent amphibian declines are many, but an emerging disease called chytridiomycosis and global climate change are thought the be the biggest threats to amphibians. Chytridiomycosis is a disease caused by the fungal chytrid pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). This pathogen is associated with the global loss of hundreds of species of amphibians and represents a spectacular loss of biodiversity, some say the worst in recorded history.

Bd has spread to all inhabited continents, likely due to human-caused contamination occuring in the global frog trade.

Find a 2023 event for April 28; there are opportunities around the world

Amphibians are a canary in a coal mine

While the USGS agrees disease and climate change are leading drivers of the decline in amphibian populations, other factors are also working against our cute but slimy little friends. Climate change plays the most significant role in the Southern U.S. and West Coast. But elsewhere loss of habitat is driving the wave of extinction. Also pesticides can be particularly deadly to amphibians. As the USGS said:

Amphibians, unlike people, breathe at least partly through their skin, which is constantly exposed to everything in their environment. Consequently, their bodies are much more sensitive to environmental factors such as disease, pollution, toxic chemicals, ultraviolet radiation and habitat destruction. The worldwide occurrences of amphibian declines and deformities could be an early warning that some of our ecosystems, even seemingly pristine ones, are seriously out of balance.

The USGS considers the decline of amphibian species to be damaging to ecosystems and biodiversity. To track the unfolding and troubling story of the amphibian die-off, and to provide information and guidance aimed at improving the situation, the USGS has established the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative.

Check out Amphibiaweb’s resource page for more information on amphibians and how to help them survive.

Bottom line: Save the Frogs Day – a yearly, global amphibian conservation effort – is this Friday, April 28, 2023. Amphibian health is an important marker of overall ecosystem quality.

Find a 2023 event for April 28; there are opportunities around the world

Global Fund chief: Next pandemic will be a disease we know, fueled by climate change – POLITICO Europe

The next pandemic could already be among us and climate change means no country is safe, said Peter Sands, head of the Global Fund, one of the world’s largest funders of HIV, TB and malaria programs, in an interview with…

Please help keep this Site Going