Wildfire Smoke Health Effects

Wildfire and smoke home clean-up.

More than 1.7 million acres across ten states have already burned this year due to wildfires, displacing people from their homes and scorching natural landscapes.

And the threat doesn’t end when the fire is put out.

Wildfire smoke and its impact on indoor air quality and your health

  • Natural ventilation – through open windows and doors
  • Mechanical ventilation – through systems with fresh air intake like bathroom or kitchen fans, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Infiltration – through small openings, cracks or joints, and around doors

Exposure to ash and other residue from the fire can cause irritation to your eyes, nose, or skin and result in coughing or other health issues.

Protective measures for wildfire smoke clean-up:

  1. Children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease should NOT participate in cleanup.
  2. Avoid any skin contact with ash by wearing gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes, socks, and goggles.
  3. Protect your lungs from breathing in ash by wearing an N95 respirator.
  4. Use and clean doormats regularly to avoid tracking ash into indoor spaces that are still clean and remove shoes before returning indoors.
  5. Avoid dry sweeping because it kicks up too many ash particles.
  6. Mist hard surfaces, both indoor and outdoor, to keep the dust down.
  7. Choose a HEPA-type vacuum as opposed to a standard household vacuum that will just blow the ash around.
  8. Ensure your drinking water is safe by checking with your provider.
  9. Any fruits or vegetables that are home-grown need to be washed thoroughly if they are from trees or gardens where ash fell.
  10.  Wash your hands well before eating anything at the affected site.
  11. Dispose of ash in your regular trash bin, containing it in plastic bags or other containers to prevent it from being stirred up again.
  12. Contact your local authorities if you suspect any hazardous waste is present.

Source: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/wildfires-and-indoor-air-quality-iaq

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