Study: Wildfire smoke has created health hazard in Texas - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Study: Wildfire smoke has created health hazard in Texas

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TYLER (KYTX) -  A large number of wildfires puts Texas at the very top of a new national report. That national resource defense council report shows heavy smoke from these wildfires has created a big health risk for many Texas communities, including our own.

Friday's windy conditions had firefighters loaded up and ready to go in case of a fire. When they prepare for wildfires, they prepare for heavy smoke, and they're urging the public to do the same.

It was the 2011 wildfire season, charring much of Texas, that landed our state at the top of a national list. The National Resource Defense Council reports that our biggest wildfires produce smoke that can travel hundreds of miles.

"We're sitting over here in Noonday and we can see some of the smoke coming from Chapel Hill. We can see the smoke coming from up in Winona," says Noonday Assistant Fire Chief Jonathan McClish.

That smoke, no matter where it comes from, causes a health hazard for the people in its path.
  
"Whether they are a firefighter or not, it will affect different people in different ways. A lot of people will be coughing for days or be put on oxygen. Sometimes they even have to go to the hospital," McClish says.

UT Health Northeast Lung specialist Dr. James Stocks says people with pre-exiting lung diseases like asthma or COPD need to be even more careful around smoke.

"It can set off an attack like an asthma attack or a bronchitis attack," Dr. Stocks says.

He says when smoke is in the air, limit your exposure.

"Try to stay indoors as much as possible. Run your air conditioner to filter the air, and to avoid exercise outside," Stocks says.

This wildfire season may quite not compare to 2011, but it's kept firefighters very busy. For any region, one wildfire is one too many. 

The peak of wildfire season typically hits in the summertime, and even though we've had lots of recent rains, lots of East Texas is still very dry. So always stay prepared for these fires and the smoke that comes with them.

 

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