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Wildfire smoke brings potential health hazards

Posted at 6:34 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 10:45:21-04

GREAT FALLS — Where there is fire, there is often an abundance of smoke during wildfire season. While the blowing embers and charred ground can create problems of their own, the hazards that come along with wildfire smoke can be far-reaching.

Dr. Ted Myatt, a senior environmental scientist with Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc., explains the first method in protecting a home's interior from wildfire smoke is sealing. "You're looking to seal up any gaps or leaks that come into your home so what you would do anyways to keep the cold out. Make sure to do really good weather stripping around your windows, doors or places where there may be penetrations through the walls." Dr. Myatt explains.

Wildfire smoke particulates are much smaller than other pollutants such as power plant emissions, car exhaust, etc. Their size actually makes the air more toxic and more of an irritant causing greater health effects.

Given the increasing amount of smoky days in the Treasure State, Dr. Myatt recommends investing in an air purifier. He explains, "First and foremost you. want to get a HEPA air purifier. They have the best filtration removing around 99.7%. of particles down tto 0.3. microns. So 0.3 t o 2.5 microns is really the size of the particles that we're talking about with wildfire smoke."

Dr. Myatt also recommends setting the air conditioner on recirculate to avoid pulling in any toxic air from outside. You can keep track of wildfire smoke and air quality at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality's website.


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