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Smoke wreaks havoc on already-weakened hearts and lungs

A sculpture is framed against the smoke-filled skies that have plagued southern B.C.
August 24, 2015 - 8:00 PM

SOUTHERN INTERIOR - Looks like the smokey skies will be with us until at least tomorrow and that means more discomfort for those with chronic heart and respiratory problems.

“When we talk about smokey skies, we’re talking about the tiny solid particles that remain suspended in the air. The major concern is particles smaller than 2.5 microns. They lodge deep in our lungs and can cause respiratory or cardiac problems,” Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi says.

The medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority offered some advice to people affected by the smoke-filled skies that have plagued the Thompson-Okanagan region since Sunday morning when residents woke up to a blanket of smoke and very poor air quality readings depending on your area.

Some of Golmohammadi’s suggestions were more obvious than others.

“Avoid smoking when ventilation is limited. Also using open fire appliances such as a stove is not a good idea. Stay indoors when it’s smokey, close the windows and doors but be aware that those fine particles can find their way indoors. Use a filtration system such as air conditioning.”

Golmohammadi says people with existing health conditions should activate their management plans, if they have not already done so.

Meanwhile chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said there are 180 active wildfires burning in B.C. down from 230 just a few days ago.

“The vast majority were lightning caused. The have decreased over the last few days. We have been hampered by the thick smoke and poor visibility. There is a silver lining however and that is the smoke is so dense that it is supressing fire activity.”

According to Skrepnek, there have been 1,753 fires across the province this year and the province has spent $233 million to date fighting them.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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