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Satellite image showing smoke from California wildfires blanketing the state on Aug. 7, 2018. Photo: NASA

The massive wildfires burning in California are emitting so much smoke that parts of the state, as well as neighboring states, now have some of the most hazardous air quality readings of anywhere in the world.

Why it matters: Millions of people not threatened by the flames are still in harms' way of the fires' smoke plumes, particularly in the Central Valley of California. Smoke-related air quality issues are the result of wildfires combined with weather patterns that keep the smoke in place for long periods of time.

Details: The wildfires are belching smoke high into the air, but with anemic winds aloft much of it is getting trapped above the Golden State. The wildfires themselves are historic, and their smoke plumes have been so large and widespread that they've been visible from the International Space Station.

  • The Mendocino Fire Complex, for example, is the state's largest wildfire on record, at more than 290,000 acres burned and growing. The fire is unlikely to be contained — let alone extinguished — before September, according to Cal Fire.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The impact: As they churn through wood, grass and other materials, California's wildfires are wafting both gases and fine particles into the air. When inhaled, the microscopic particles, known as particulates, can be absorbed into the bloodstream and lungs, causing or aggravating health problems such as asthma and heart disease.

  • Smoke can also serve as a precursor to ground-level ozone, which is a human health hazard as well.
  • In some areas, air quality is so hazardous that authorities are advising people to stay indoors as much as possible.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.