Local fire chiefs: Limit smoke exposure

Smoke from Canadian wildfires has left a haze over several parts of the United States in recent days, including parts of Northeast Ohio.

In a Canadian fire season that is just getting started but could well become the worst on record, more than 400 blazes — over a third of them in Quebec — burned Thursday. The smoke billowing from the fires sent plumes of fine particulate matter as far away as North Carolina and northern Europe.

Residents in the Mahoning Valley, especially those with prior health and respiratory issues, might have wondered if the smog could impact their health and what precautions they could take to limit that effect.

Howland fire Chief and paramedic James Pantalone said that local weather conditions can change how the air quality impacts vulnerable individuals.

He said Trumbull County residents should make sure they are using any medications they are prescribed for their condition and should pay attention to any updates from government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The EPA is constantly monitoring for the best health conditions for people,” Pantalone said. “And we know that with these wildfires, if people have breathing conditions they should certainly watch out for high humidity, that can be a problem for some who have breathing conditions. If you have a prescription for oxygen, certainly use it and make sure that your units are all working and functioning properly.”

Boardman fire Chief and paramedic Mark Pitzer echoed a similar sentiment for people with breathing issues in Mahoning County. Pitzer said that for anyone concerned, the best course of action simply would be to stay inside their homes.

“With anything, the recommendation would be that anyone with significant health risks, asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or any breathing issues, it would just be recommended for those individuals, if they’re concerned or having difficulties breathing, just to shelter in place,” Pitzer said. “Stay inside until, hopefully, this passes here or this weather shifts and the wind changes and the smoke and odor pushes out of our area.”

Pitzer added that anyone opting to just stay home must make sure to take needed precautions as well.

“They could stay inside and (make sure) their furnace is filtering particulates and stuff like that,” Pitzer said, “Keep their windows closed, obviously if you open up a window, you’re gonna allow that smoke and odor to get inside your house. That’s about the best recommendation we could give anybody with any health risks.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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