The smoke from recent summer fires in Utah and other states are making the air quality in Utah worse and that’s affecting people with asthma and other respiratory problems. Dr. Denitza Blagev, Intermountain Medical Center Pulmonologist, joined us to explain how to help your family cope with respiratory problems due to summer fires, high ozone/ air pollution levels and fireworks.
He explained that wildfire smoke can travel thousands of miles and still contains particle pollution called PM2.5 that are only about one fourth the diameter of a human hair. They’re so small they can enter and lodge deep in the lungs.
Who is most vulnerable to smoke pollution?
- Children and teens
- Pregnant women
- The elderly
- Anyone with respiratory problems, (asthma, bronchitis, COPD) heart disease or diabetes
Particle pollution can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. Check the air quality report daily if you are in one of these sensitive groups.
Five ways to protect yourself from wildfire smoke
- Stay inside as much as possible, with doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut.
- Use recirculation setting on home and car air conditioners.
- When driving through smoky areas, close car windows and vents.
- If you have lung disease, ask your physician if you need to change your medication and let them know of any increased symptoms.
- If returning to a fire-damaged home, keep children and others away from ash. Wear an N-95 mask, protective clothing, gloves and goggles to reduce exposure.
Ways to reduce summer air pollution
- Use public transportation, reduce driving time and mileage.
- Use less electricity by turning air conditioning to a higher temperature setting.
- Turn off lights, TVs and computers when not being used.
- Avoid using gas powered lawn mowers, trimmers, chain saws, power-washers, air compressors and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days.
For more information visit intermountainhealthcare.org.
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