Doctor: Intense wildfire smoke could have long-term health effects.

Doctor says Twin Falls area has not seen intense enough smoke to permanently impact airways.
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 10:32 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - With smoke from wildfires filling the air of southern Idaho on and off for the last month, KMVT askes a doctor about the possible long-term health effects lower air quality could have on individuals.

Wildfires tend to generate carbon monoxide and unhealthy particles, says Dr. Gregory Wickern, an asthma and allergy specialist.

In the short-term, the smoke can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, as well as breathing difficulties and even chest pain.

The long term effects, though, are still being researched and studied.

“There is some data out there that people who have been exposed to the highest levels of smoke may actually have non-reversible airway decline,” Wickern said. “Most of us who are exposed in areas like we live here in Twin Falls, will generally have short-term effects that will reverse once we have air quality return.”

While Wickern believes southern Idaho is not among the areas with high smoke levels that could cause long-term problems, he says he is seeing patients come in on a daily basis with short-term difficulties due to air quality.

If people do have to be outside when air quality is poor, Wickern says N95 masks help filter the air.

Copyright 2020 KMVT/KSVT. All rights reserved.

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