This smoke map from July 3rd, 2013, shows how far wildfire smoke spreads. (Image from Wildfire Today.)
You've been inhaling tar balls.
A recent study found that miniature tar balls are ten times more abundant in wildfire smoke than soot, and even the soot is mostly coated with organics from the fire. This doesn't sound good for our lungs or wildlife.
The team used field-emission scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X ray spectroscopy to analyze the aerosol samples and determined that spherical carbonaceous particles called tar balls were 10 times more abundant than soot.
Furthermore, the bare soot particles, which are composite porous fractal structures made of tiny spherical carbon, are modified significantly by the organics emitted by the fire. About 96 percent of the soot from the fire is coated by other organics substances, with 50 percent being totally coated.