Wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico have burned a combine 1400 square miles of land, pumping billows of smoke into the atmosphere that contains a mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water vapor, particulate matter and other organic chemicals. Inhalation of smoke is damaging to your respiratory system and millions of people are affected by it every year. People living in a 5-10 mile radius of a wildfire are at the most risk and should limit prolonged outside activity.
Common health problems associated with smoke inhalation include coughing, itchy throat, dry eyes and headaches. More serious health issues that can arise include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pains, exacerbation of asthma and the development of bronchitis. Children, elderly and individuals with a history of asthma or respiratory diseases are the most at risk to develop health issues. Even the healthiest person can develop symptoms when exposed to high levels of wildfire smoke.
Residents living near wildfires should take precautions to ensure proper respiratory health. Hot and dry weather conditions cause smoke in the air to remain stagnate and settles at the ground level. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends staying indoors as the best way to avoid smoke inhalation. Keep windows and doors closed and remain indoors until smoke levels have decreased. If you have to drive somewhere, keep the windows rolled up the entire trip.
For those individuals looking to take more precautions, a full face respirator is recommended. The full face design seals around your forehead, cheeks and under your chin for an airtight fit. Full face respirators also come with adjustable straps so you can get a custom and secure fit. It is also recommended to use a pair of organic vapor cartridges or particulate filters for the best respiratory protection possible.