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Wildfires cause health issues for Utahns as bad air quality persists through weekend

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Posted at 7:50 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 21:50:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY – All the smoke we’re seeing from wildfires is having a bad impact on our air quality.

With conditions expected to linger through the weekend, doctors say it’s important to take precautions.

The haze blanketing the Salt Lake Valley is due to smoke from wildfires in Oregon and California. The unhealthy air quality levels could last through the weekend.

“Since our air quality is pretty stagnant, we’re just getting all of that particulate pollution that we’re breathing in from those wildfires,” Donna Kemp Spangler, with the Department of Environmental Quality said.

Breathing in smoke with harmful chemicals can cause coughing, scratchy throat, watery and itchy eyes and trigger asthma flare-ups.

“The heat doesn’t help. They feel like they’re suffocating,” said Dr. Denitza Blagev, a Pulmonary Critical Care Physician with Intermountain Medical Center.

Blagev says those most at risk are young children and older adults who have chronic underlying heart or lung problems. She suggests they limit their time outdoors.

If you want to exercise, do it in the morning when the ozone levels are low.

“It’s really important to make sure you’re taking your medications consistently,” Blagev said. “If those medical problems are kept under control, that gives you a little bit more reserve to cope with events such as the wildfires and the air pollution.”

DEQ is encouraging people to limit driving, take mass transit or car pool.

“Just try to be mindful that you have an impact on poor air quality just as the fires do as well,” Spangler said.