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Wildfire Smoke and Your Health - ...

Wildfire Smoke and Your Health - FAQ

Wildfire Smoke and Your Health - FAQ

The following information has been informed by wildfire smoke evidence reviews conducted by the BC Center for Disease Control (BCCDC).

Why is wildfire smoke bad for my health?
Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of particles and gasses.  Gases released by wildfires, such as carbon monoxide, are mainly a risk to people (like firefighters) who work near smoldering areas. Fine particles, which are in smoke, can irritate your eyes and your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases. The amount and length of smoke exposure, as well as a person’s age and overall health, play a role in determining if you will experience smoke- related health problems.
If you are experiencing serious medical problems for any reason, seek medical attention immediately.

What is particulate matter?
The particulate matter (also called “PM”) in wildfire smoke poses the biggest risk to the health of the public. The potential health effects vary based on the type of plants burning, atmospheric conditions and, most importantly, the size of the particles. Particles larger than 10 micrometers (PM10) usually irritate only the eyes, nose and throat. Fine particles 2.5 micrometers or smaller (PM2.5) can be inhaled into the deepest part of the lungs, and may cause symptoms such as coughing or may worsen existing heart and lung conditions.  PM concentrations and forecast duration is most useful to inform decisions on how to protect public health.

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