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Wildfires burning out of control across the Western U.S. causes hazy skies throughout New York City and Washington D.C. Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New studies show the smoke from some wildfires like the 2018 Camp fire could be even more harmful than previously believed because its noxious fumes include elevated levels of chemicals such as lead, zinc and iron, Los Angeles Times reports.

Why it matters: Hazardous chemicals in the air are linked with serious health implications for blood pressure, reproductive systems and even cancer and neurological disorders, especially in children.

Driving the news: Smoke from current wildfires on the West Coast has reached the opposite coast, creating hazy skies that could linger for weeks.

State of play: Researchers studied data from air filters and toxic monitors in the aftermath of the Camp fire and found many buildings that burned were likely constructed before the lead paint ban in 1978 and the cars that burned had chemicals such as zinc.

  • Lead levels in Chico, the closest monitoring site to the Camp fire, were 50 times higher than normal for one 24-hour period during the fire.
  • “You’re not only now burning wood. You’re burning heavy metals, and you’re burning plastics and other things that wouldn’t burn just in a forest fire," Peter DeCarlo, an associate professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University, told the LA Times.

The big picture: Researchers are also linking the potentially negative effects of wildfire smoke and COVID-19 with respiratory illnesses.

  • A study published this month found that wildfire smoke may greatly increase susceptibility to COVID-19.
  • The immediate effects of wildfire smoke is also concerning to experts, who fear the smoke will drive high populations of unvaccinated people indoors and lead to a spike in community infections, Kaiser Health News reports.

Go deeper

Oct 30, 2021 - Health

Over 26K NYC workers remain unvaccinated after Friday deadline

Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Over 26,000 New York City municipal workers are unvaccinated after a Friday deadline to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, AP reports.

Driving the news: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Oct. 20 that covers all of the city's public employees, including police officers and firefighters. Nearly 46,000 unvaccinated employees needed to receive one dose by Friday.

Harris gets COVID-19 booster shot

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images.

Vice President Kamala Harris received a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, while calling on Americans to get vaccinated to "get through and beyond" the pandemic.

Driving the news: The White House said Harris qualifies for a booster shot due to her job duties that include frequent traveling and interacting with people, AP reports.

Oct 30, 2021 - Health

Axios AM Deep Dive: Our mental health crisis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Mental health care was already inequitable and in short supply in the U.S. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by health care reporter Caitlin Owens, looks at how the pandemic made it worse.