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New report reveals several toxins in smoke from Camp Fire

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PARADISE, Calif. - A new report by the California Air Resources Board shows that smoke from the Camp Fire contained several toxins including lead and zinc.

The study found that lead levels were 50 times above the average concentration and zinc levels were 33 times above the average concentration in the air in Chico.

The number of toxins in the air is being attributed to the number of buildings and cars that burned during the fire.

"When all of these homes and vehicles burned they contained lead and the lead that's in those structures and vehicles volatilize and were released into the air," Chief of Air Quality Planning and Science Division at Air Quality Resources Board Michael Benjamin said.

Many of the buildings that burned were older and contained lead paint, according to Benjamin.

“Things like blood pressure on the heart, it's especially concerning for children. It is known to have impacts on neurological systems, your nervous system and so on," Benjamin said.

Many people who live on the ridge and in Chico said they are not surprised by the findings because they can remember how hard it was to breathe during the Camp Fire.

According to the report the extreme levels lasted for 24 hours.

Camp Fire survivor Madison Acosta remembers the lingering headaches that breathing the smoke gave her.

"The smoke was really, really thick. It made the morning look like nighttime. And there were giant pieces of ash, bigger than quarter size falling constantly," Acosta said.

Vernon James, who lives in Chico, can remember the smoke smothering Chico during the Camp Fire and that it forced him to stay inside.

"Because I do have asthma and allergies. In fact, you can hear it in my voice. It affects it clearly," James said.

To this day he tracks the Air Quality Index, and when it gets too high he has to stay inside.

Benjamin also said that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done, specifically how these different metals deposit onto things like soil.

"The bad news is exposure to lead and these metals is not a good thing in general," Benjamin said.

There is no data to suggest any surges of hospitalizations following the Camp Fire.

It remains unclear what long-term effects the poor air quality from the fire will have on people.

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