Green River Star -

By David Martin

Hazy skies raise health concerns


August 9, 2017

Hazy skies have become a common sight throughout Southwestern Wyoming as smoke from numerous fires in the western United States and Canada comes through the area.

The smoke has resulted in healthcare professionals warning residents with respiratory problems to stay indoors because of the declining air quality.

Sweetwater County Public Health released a media release encouraging people to avoid heavy outdoor exercise. Public health’s release stated those with heart and respiratory conditions are susceptible to smoke-related complications. A separate release issued by Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, residents are urged to be mindful of the smoke’s potential effects.

“People with respiratory issues are urged to take precautions,” MHSC Respiratory Therapist Christine Chewning said. “We recommend people stay inside their homes if at all possible.”

Sweetwater County Public Health states older residents are threatened because of their likelihood of having heart or lung disease. However, children can also be affected by the wildfire smoke because their airways are still developing and breathe more air per pound than adults. Those staying indoors should also keep as much smoke out of the home as they can. Suggestions include:

* Try to keep windows and doors closed.

* Keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean for those who run an air conditioner.

* Seek shelter elsewhere if an air conditioner is unavailable and it’s too warm to stay inside with the windows closed.

* When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces or gas stoves.

Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.

According to Crystal Hamblin, Director of Cardiopulmonary Services at MHSC, the hospital has not had an influx of patients seeking treatment for respiratory issues.

“If you are concerned, get with your primary care provider to manage symptoms,” Hamblin said.

Residents without a primary care provider, can contact MHSC’s Family Medicine doctors, who offer same-day appointments.

MHSC Family Medicine can be reached by calling 307-212-7708.

“For severe respiratory distress, please come to the emergency room,” Hamblin said.

Naomi Trumble, operations manager for Castle Rock Medical Center, said the medical center hasn’t seen an increase in respiratory complaints.

Sweetwater County has had hazy skies for the past 10 days as a result of wildfires in Montana, according to Sweetwater County Fire Warden Mike Bournazian.

Fires around Pocatello and Boise, Idaho, kicked up this weekend, pushing more smoke into the area, he said. Plus, the Pole Creek Fire, now burning on the Kemmerer Ranger District in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, has grown to more than 3,000 acres as of Sunday afternoon.

Adding to that, British Columbia is having a record fire season, Bournazian said. All of the smoke from those fires is moving across the Pacific Northwest and the Rockies.


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