American Lung Association warns of health harms from breathing smoky air

  • Wednesday, September 6, 2017 1:30pm
  • News

More than 25 wildfires continue to burn throughout the Pacific Northwest blanketing skies with smoke.

The smoke from these fires along with stagnant weather conditions and near-record high temperatures are creating air quality in the unhealthy levels, according to an American Lung Association media release.

Dangerous smoke from these wildfires poses lethal health hazards to people living and working in surrounding areas. Residents with respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those with chronic heart disease should take extra precautions during this time and call their physician immediately if problems develop.

The smoke from wildfires is a mixture of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter (known as PM), hydrocarbons, other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides and trace minerals. Exposure to this smoke can cause serious health problems ranging from pneumonia and asthma attacks to cardiovascular episodes.

Most vulnerable to smoke exposure are babies, small children, pregnant women, the elderly and anyone with existing respiratory problems or heart disease.

“Even those without lung disease are at risk during this time,” said Heather Kimmel, executive director of the American Lung Association in Idaho. “With the rising smoke levels, there is an increased risk of dangerous health effects ranging from respiratory tract irritation to more serious illness, including reduced lung function, bronchitis, worsening of asthma, and premature death. This is especially concerning for older adults and outdoor workers. Special care should be given to children as they are most susceptible to smoke because their lungs are still developing.”

The American Lung Association offers the following tips:

• Stay inside as much as possible, with doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut – with clean air circulating through air conditions and/or air cleaners. Residents should use the re-circulation setting on their home air conditions to avoid outdoor air contamination. Using whole house fans is not recommended because they can allow unfiltered outside air into the home.

• When driving through smoky areas, car windows and vents should be closed. Air conditioning should be set to recirculate to avoid exposure to outside air.

• Avoid exercising outdoors, particularly if you smell smoke of experience eye or throat irritation.

• If you have lung disease, check in with your physician regarding any changes in medication that may be needed to cope with the smoky conditions. If you experience any symptoms, contact your physician immediately.

• Check the quality of your air. Visit airnow.gov or download the AirNow app on your smartphone. Local radio, TV weather reports and newspapers also provide updates.

More in News

First students enroll in Impact Puget Sound Elementary

Tukwila’s first charter school will begin serving kindergarteners and first-graders in August.

Pro-gun activists gather on the steps of the Capitol building for a rally on Friday. Photo by Taylor McAvoy/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Gun rights activists call for a halt to five firearm bills

Hearings for all the bills are scheduled for Monday morning.

The Washington State Senate chambers. Photo by Lincolnite/Wikimedia
Back in the majority, Senate Democrats moving fast to pass backlogged bills

Bills on pay equity, gay conversion therapy, gun regulation, and voting rights are all on the “to do” list.

Washington state capitol campus. Photo by Visitor7/Wikimedia
State lawmakers hear a proposal to outlaw sexual orientation conversion therapy

The bill’s sponsor says that it includes religious protections and does not discourage families from seeking non-medical therapy.

Suspect arrested after human remains found in Tukwila

Major Crime Unit is investigating the case as a homicide.

Port of Seattle expands its efforts to combat human trafficking

Enhanced training and public awareness will be part of the program.

New bill could put Washington salmon farms in jeopardy

The bill is at least partially in response to an August incident in which 30,000 Atlantic salmon escaped.

Lawmaker unveils ambitious plan to protect Salish Sea

The bill would aim to restore salmon while cutting down on toxins and noise pollution.

Most Read