Advisory from Dr. Donald Misch, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health and Wellness:
Currently, the third-largest wildfire in Colorado history is burning to the north of Boulder County. Smoke from the High Park fire is affecting many communities in our area and the Boulder County Public Health has issued a health advisory. I urge you to exercise appropriate caution to preserve your health as we deal with the high levels of particulates in our air.
Wildfire smoke contains pollutants that can be harmful to health. Particles from smoke tend to be very small and can be inhaled into the deepest recesses of the lungs. Even in healthy people, this can cause pulmonary inflammation and temporary reductions in lung function. Particulate matter can also affect the body’s immune system.
In general, if you can see or smell smoke, I recommended you avoid outdoor physical activities. If visibility is decreased to less than five miles, smoke has reached unhealthy levels.
When smoke levels are high, even healthy people may experience coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes, and a runny nose.
Children, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions should stay inside with the windows and doors closed. If it is hot outside, people should run an air conditioner if they have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If they do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, they should seek shelter elsewhere.