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Wildfire Smoke and Your Health

May 22
16:20 2014

Smoke from the Slide Fire located south of Flagstaff in Oak Creek Canyon continues to affect communities in Northern Arizona. According to Trish Lees, Community Relations Manager with Coconino County Public Health Services, certain susceptible and high risk individuals should exercise caution when smoke can be seen or smelled.

Wildfire smoke is a mixture of small particles, gases and water vapor. The primary health concern is the small particles. Not everyone who is exposed to smoke will have health problems. Many factors influence a person’s susceptibility to smoke. These factors include the level, extent, and duration of exposure, age, and individual susceptibility.

Anyone who can see, taste or smell smoke should curtail outdoor activity. People with heart disease, lung disease or asthma should avoid the outdoors entirely, as should children and the elderly.

Typical symptoms of exposure to smoke include burning eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, headaches, dizziness and nausea.

Closing windows and turning off evaporative coolers when smoke is present helps to reduce exposure to the smoke and should be adequate to protect persons without respiratory problems.

People with pre-existing conditions should avoid exposure to the smoke as much as possible, and consult their physician if they have any questions.

Visit or the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) website at

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