Every year thousands of acres of range and forest lands burn on the Colville Indian Reservation and surrounding areas. Smoke has no boundaries and can travel great distances causing the same health affects as smoke from local fires.
Health threat from wildfire smoke
Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees, bitter brush, sage, grasses, and other plant materials. Smoke can cause difficulty in breathing, red watery eyes, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.
How to tell if smoke is affecting you
Smoke can cause
- A scratchy throat
- Irritated sinuses
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stinging eyes
- A runny nose
- Asthma symptoms worsen
If you have heart, lung disease, diabetes or are a stoke victim smoke might make your symptoms worse.
People who have heart disease might experience
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Smoke may worsen symptoms for people who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) shown by the:
- Inability to breathe normally
- Cough with or without mucus
- Tightening of the Chest and discomfort
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
When smoke levels are high enough, even healthy people can experience some of these symptoms.
Psychological effects on children
It is important to keep in mind that children can easily become saturated with graphic pictorial images, and hear stories pertaining to smoke, flames and destruc-tion. Resulting stress and anxiety may be manifested in a variety of ways, depending on the developmental stage of the individual child:
- Clinging, fears
- Uncooperative behavior, irritability
- Physical complaints
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
Parents and caregiver can support children in a number of ways:
- Maintain previously established routines and structure as much as possible
- Provided an open door and a listening ear for children; encourage the expression of feelings through variety of pathways, e.g., ,music, art, journaling, talking.
Know whether you are at risk
If you have heart or lung disease, such as congestive heart failure, angina, COPD, emphysema, or asthma, you are at higher risk of having health problems than healthy people.
Sensitive Groups include people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children are the groups most at risk.
Elders are more likely to be affected by smoke possibly be-cause they are more likely to have heart or lung dis-eases than younger people.
Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke because their airways are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Children also are more likely to be active outdoors.
Air Quality Index for Small Particle Pollution
|Air Quality Index||Air Quality||Health Advisory|
|0 to 50||Good||None|
|51 to 100||Moderate||Air quality is acceptable; however there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. Sensitve Groups include people with heart or lung disease, elders and children with respiratory problems|
|101 to 150||Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups||Members of sensitive group may experience health ef-fects. The general public is not likely to be affected|
|151 to 200||Unhealthy||Everyone may begin to experience health effects; mem-bers of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects|
|201 to 300||Very Unhealthy||Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected|
|301 to 500||Hazardous||Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects|
For more information concerning the AQI or how wildfire smoke can affect you please contact:
Kris Ray | Environmental Trust Air Quality Program Manager | 509-634-2418 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tribal Health Program | 509-634-2996 |
TOSHA environmental Health | 509-634-2014 |
2014 Wildfire Smoke Brochure PDF
2016 Visual Guild to Smoke and Air Quality PDF
2017 Native Voices Smoke Article PDF