Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (September 17, 2020) — Wildfire smoke is making it difficult to breathe for many people in the Sweetwater County area.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division, and the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) issued an air quality alert for wildfire smoke for Sweetwater County and 10 other Wyoming counties through Friday, September 18. A change in the upper-level pattern is expected to improve conditions slightly Friday afternoon, but will likely fill back in as fires continue in the West.
Dr. Michael Neyman, a hospitalist at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC), said it is important to take extra precautions. Limit your exposure if you have any type of heart or lung disease, are a child or an older adult, have diabetes, or are pregnant. Those with any type of respiratory problems should avoid excessive physical exertion and limit outdoor activities
“We’ve had five people admitted in just four days to the ICU with complications of underlying lung disease,” he said. “This number is highly unusual for this time of year. The smoke is a significant risk factor for those with respiratory illnesses.
“Should you be outside, please wear a face mask if you have to be outside for a prolonged period of time,” he said.
Crystal Hamblin, MHSC Cardiopulmonary Services Director has some tips for those who may be affected by the smoky skies:
- If you currently are on medications for lung diseases, be diligent about taking your medications as prescribed by your physician.
- Smoke inhalation can irritate your lungs, so be sure to carry any prescribed rescue inhalers with you at all times.
- If you are wheezing or it is becoming increasingly difficult to breathe, contact your primary care physician immediately.
- If you know the smoke is an irritant to your lungs, avoid being outside as much as possible.
- If you have a known lung disease such as asthma, COPD, or any other lung complications, take extra care to limit smoke exposure.
Wildfire smoke is made up of a variety of pollutants, including particulate matter and ozone, which can cause respiratory health effects, according to WDH. Although those with respiratory health issues are most susceptible to health impacts, WDH advises that everyone should avoid prolonged exposure to poor air quality conditions.