Smoke, ash from Banning fire raises health concerns

POSTED: 05:13 PM PDT May 01, 2013 
Banning wildfire
BANNING, Calif. -

Riverside County health officials are warning residents – particularly those in the San Gorgonio Pass area -- the wildfire burning in the Banning area could have an impact on their health through the smoke and soot the flames are generating.

Wildfire smoke, which is a mixture of small particles, gases and water vapor, is covering portions of the Pass area and could cause residents health problems ranging from burning eyes, runny nose, shortness of breath, scratchy throat, headaches, chest pains and a variety of illnesses. The smoke can also worsen chronic heart and lung disease.

“The health issues raised by the wildfire stretch beyond the areas where the flames are burning,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for Riverside County. “There are small steps that residents can take to prevent the smoke from impacting their lives. It is important that residents recognize the smoke presents a health hazard.”

The American Lung Association has some general recommendations for those in areas where smoke is present.

People with respiratory problems and chronic heart disease should: