Alberta Health Services warns smoke of health risks from forest-fire season

Alberta Health Services warns smoke of health risks from forest-fire season

18 May 2010

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USA — Wildfires are looking to be a hot topic this season as the winter and spring have left us with extremely dry conditions.

These fires may have a negative impact on health. Smoke is a mixture of chemicals, suspended particles and water vapour. It can cause coughing, a scratchy throat, stinging eyes and runny nose, headaches and shortness of breath.

People with medical issues like respiratory conditions and/or asthma and heart or lung disease are at higher risk and may experience problems with chest pain, rapid heartbeat, wheezing and shortness of breath, fatigue or coughing.

Contact your health care provider immediately if you have a pre-existing condition and are experiencing any of the above symptoms during a wildfire.

Children are also more sensitive to smoke due to their developing lungs, their relatively large volume of air intake and the fact they are more likely to be involved in outdoor physical activity.

To minimize the effects of smoke: keep windows and doors closed and seal off any large gaps, if you have an air conditioner at home, run it set to ‘re-circulate’ and keep the fresh air intake closed; do not vacuum as this can stir up dust and particles; keep a supply of groceries on hand that do not require cooking – cooking can release vapours into the air that can impact the air quality; do not smoke; when driving keep windows closed; limit your exposure outdoors.

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