Smoke fills Roseville. View on Foothills Blvd.

Smoke Pollution & Particulate Matter

This article was originally published on November 15, 2018.

Roseville, CA- As California fires bring more devastation, one of the significant impacts that extend far beyond the immediate fire zone is widespread smoke and the associated health risks. Smoke and particulate matter can have serious health effects, especially on children and older adults.


As we’ve reported before, Placer County already ranks among the worst air quality in the entire United States. In 2020, the fire season is delivering hazardous amounts of smoke to large swaths of California, including Placer and Sacramento counties.

The greater attention to air quality has residents wondering about the potential health impacts of smoke and Particulate Matter.

Roseville Bus

(School bus navigates smoke-filled intersection of Pleasant Grove and Foothills Blvd. back in 2018)

For a quick reference, we turned to the EPA for a better understanding.

Particulate Matter Health Effects


The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream.

Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including:

  • premature death in people with heart or lung disease
  • nonfatal heart attacks
  • irregular heartbeat
  • aggravated asthma
  • decreased lung function
  • increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.
  • People with heart or lung diseases, children, and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure.