Risk of toxins remains from wildfire smoke

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Carissa Yarbrough spent Wednesday afternoon with her mother at Via Christi’s allergy clinic. She admits the nearby wildfires gave them both trouble.

“My mom is really struggling and really suffering,” she said.

The combination of flames sending smoke and toxins into the sky, along with dust blowing for miles, created a rough scenario for anyone with sensitive breathing issues.

“You could see it in the air and with the wind in general,” Yarbrough said. “I think sometimes it’s more difficult to deal with than just smoke and fire.

Even on a crystal clear day, the strong winds can carry toxins from those fires far away and doctors fear that means more people will suffer and be forced to get help.

“It makes me nervous because we get more calls from patients with respiratory conditions,” said Dr. Thomas Scott with Via Christi. “People who work outside, athletes who train are all at risk. The stuff in the smoke is not good.”

Specifically, Scott worries about his patients with asthma or C.O.P.D. Those toxins could trigger an attack that would leave a patient hospitalized.

He urges them to have an action plan because if more fires start on another dry and windy day, the risk will only get higher.

“Just common sense – if they’re burning, stay in the house,” he said.

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