Forest Fires Affecting The Health Of Many

By Jeff Allen | 

Forest fires continue to burn across Eastern Kentucky.

Forestry officials say they've been able to contain most of them and they didn't have quite as many new fires Tuesday. The fires send up plumes of smoke and can almost create a smoky haze around many parts of Eastern Kentucky, but what about breathing in that air?

Forestry officials say when these fires burn, they send millions of what are called tiny "fine particulates" up into the air. They're so tiny that all of us can easily breathe those in and it might cause us to cough or get maybe a scratchy throat. But to others, it can be much more dangerous.

Forest's across Eastern Kentucky burn and forest rangers fighting them feel the effects.

"Been battling these fires everyday for about two weeks. The effects can last for another week or two, getting choked up, hard to breathe," said Forest Ranger Lem Johnson.

But it's not just those on the front line who are bothered by it. Smoke spreads into the air that we all breathe. Forestry officials say fires turn wood and other natural materials that burn into tiny particulates that can easily be breathed in deep into the throat and lungs. That can bother anyone, but especially those who already have heart and lung conditions such as asthma and emphysema.

"Increase the inflammation. The fumes are going to increase the congestion, increase how much mucus they produce, and that increases their problems and their symptoms," said Anita Schoolcraft with the Barbourville Family Health Center.

The nurse practitioner we talked to says if you live in an area where forest fires are burning, it's smoky, and you think it might have an affect on you, the best thing to do is stay indoors as much as you can, keep windows shut, and let your home's air conditioning or heat filter out the smoke.

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