New Mexico smoke raises health concerns in Lubbock - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

New Mexico smoke raises health concerns in Lubbock

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Wildfires continue to burn in the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. Smoke from the blaze has traveled all the way to Lubbock. Dozens of homes have been destroyed in the 70,579 acres that have been burned so far.

Due to high winds, firefighters don't believe they will be able to start combating the flames until Sunday. So it may be a few days until the haze drifts out of the hub city.

Lubbock residents are concerned about the effects the smoke might have on our health, but Dr. Raed Alalawi says we don't need to be too worried.

"No, not unless you have an airway disease - and by airway disease I mean asthma - and you're an asthmatic who's very sensitive to the smell of smoke," Alalawi said.

People that suffer from COPD are also at risk to develop symptoms such as chest tightness and coughing. Alalawi says symptoms are more prevalent if you are in close proximity to the fire.

"Sometimes the smoke brings it on if you are close to the fire - not if you're just smelling the fire," Alalawi said.

Wildfires produce a particular kind of smoke that can irritate the airways.

"Natural forest fires, that's burning wood, so it's organic material - burning wood and other things and trees and whatnot. These produce volatile substances that are an irritant to the airways," Alalawi said.

He suggests using a rescue inhaler or staying indoors to combat the symptoms.

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