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Don't Choke On The Smoke

Joseph Hardin
Used With Permission

Smoke from the High Park Fire continues to coat the Front Range in a murky haze that can even be seen from space, but many Coloradans are just wondering if it’s safe to go outside.

Christopher Dan is with the state’s Air Pollution Control Division.

“It’s really the size of the particulates that are of more concern than necessarily what their chemical makeup is. The smaller the particulate the deeper it can be respirated and it can become embedded in your respiratory tract and lungs. Typical healthy children and adults are going to be able rid to themselves of that [particulates] fairly efficiently.”

Dan says the most at risk in the population include young children, the elderly and anyone with a prior respiratory ailment or suppressed immune systems.  

Dan says some symptoms people may experience are:

  • Watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in chest

“In a situation like what we’re experiencing right now where we have a fire that is impacting a large area, these are things [symptoms] that many of us are just going to have to deal with,” said Dan in a phone interview, but adds there are some ways to lessen the symptoms, such as:

  • Relocating to a less smoky area if possible.
  • Close all windows and doors on your home.
  • Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean on their air conditioners to prevent particulates from entering your house.
  • Run the HVAC system to provide temporary relief from symptoms
  • Do not do any activities that may raise your respiratory rate.

Health officials say kids are the most likely to be affected by the smoke because they breathe more air per pound than adults and are more likely to be active outside. Pets should also be brought inside if possible.
You can check the air quality in your local area at

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