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Arizona wildfire prompts Colorado health department to issue smoke health advisory

9:47 PM, Jun 6, 2011   |    comments
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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment issued its largest smoke health advisory of the season on Monday.

The entire southern half of the state is under the advisory which went into effect at 4 p.m. on Monday and lasts until noon on Tuesday.

"What we're seeing right now in the Denver metro area, smoke is a big component of that," Christopher Dann, public information officer with the CDPHE's Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, said.

Dann says the Wallow Fire in Arizona, which as of Monday was the third largest wildfire in state history at more than 233,000 acres, is creating so much smoke over Colorado, the CDPHE had to issue the smoke health advisory.

"This fire in particular, and the impacts from this; this is very wide-spread," Dann said.

The advisory covers Colorado Springs and everything south.

Other areas experiencing moderate-to-heavy smoke include: Durango, Pagosa Springs, Montrose, Alamosa, Aspen and nearby communities.

"The concern primarily is with the particulates in the air," Dann said.

Those particulates can settle into neighborhoods and cause serious health problems.

"It causes symptoms like shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, it can bring on the onset of other types of symptoms associated with respiratory ailments, like asthma for example," Dann said.

The metro area may not be included in this latest smoke health advisory, but people in the Denver area are being encouraged to pay close attention to the alerts, specifically at-risk individuals, including elderly, very young, or those with heart disease or respiratory illnesses.

"A little bit of pollution goes a longer way with those folks," Dann said.

If visibility is less than 5 miles in your neighborhood, the CDPHE says smoke has reached unhealthy levels.

Those folks are encouraged to limit outdoor activity, remain indoors, or if things get worse, consider temporarily relocating if the smoke is making them ill.

9NEWS Meteorologist Marty Coniglio says cooler temperatures and rain are expected mid-week, and that should bring some clean air to Colorado and the metro area.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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