Eventually the terrible wildfires in California will be brought under control but even when the fires are contained there is still ash and smoke to worry about. MercuryNews.com reports that hospitals do have people in emergency rooms with respiratory problems.
At the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in the Santa Clarita Valley north of Los Angeles where fires were burning, 22 people arrived at the emergency room complaining of respiratory problems, most likely from the smoke. At least two stayed overnight, hospital spokeswoman Bhavna Mistry said.
Sixteen patients, including four firefighters, were treated for burns at the University of California San Diego Medical Center. Of those, five also suffered from smoke inhalation.
Hospital spokeswoman Nancy Stringer said the medical center expected to see more people come in with breathing difficulties in the coming days.
“As the fires die down and people start going out, there will still be lots of dust and ash in the air,” Stringer said.
Health experts say the most dangerous byproducts of wildfires are the fine particles that are not visible to the naked eye. The particles can flow into the lungs and worsen symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
In addition to the public warnings, health officials urged schools to cancel outdoor sports activities until the air improves.
For more information about air quality in Southern California the article points to the websites of the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Department of Public Health (CPDH). A press release on the CPDH’s website warns Californians to seek medical attention if “they are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness or shortness of breath. This is important for not only people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.” You can find more information about the fires in California here.