Red Sky in Morning…
… sailors take warning? Okay, that may not apply to Montanans, but red skies may still pose a hazard to you.
Hazy summer days may result in beautiful sunrises and sunsets, but they can be a serious threat to our airways. Wildfire smoke is composed of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, particulates, and many additional elements, depending on the fuel burned. The microscopic particulates are approximately the same size as the wavelength of visible light which is why they scatter light, resulting in reduced visibility and colorful sunsets.
If you’re healthy, a small amount of smoke probably won’t significantly affect you. However, prolonged exposure to high levels of smoke may result in:
“… irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract to more serious disorders, including asthma, bronchitis, reduced lung function and premature death. Studies have found that fine particulate matter is linked (alone or with other pollutants) with a number of significant respiratory and cardiovascular-related effects, including increased mortality and aggravation of existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. In addition, airborne particles are respiratory irritants, and laboratory studies show that high concentrations of particulate matter cause persistent cough, phlegm, wheezing and physical discomfort in breathing. Particulate matter can also alter the body’s immune system and affect removal of foreign materials from the lung, like pollen and bacteria.”
Certain individuals may be more succeptable to smoke in the air:
- Individuals with asthma, or respiratory problems
- Individuals with cardiovascular disease
- Older adults
o Check air quality indexes and follow the news during wildfire season.
o If the air quality is unhealthy or hazardous, limit your time outdoors. Keep doors and windows closed.
o Use common sense. Smokey days may provide you with a great excuse to avoid mowing the lawn or exercising. Go see a movie instead.
For more information on the hazards of wildfire smoke, visit these sites: