Health experts warn of effects of smoke


KALISPELL, Mont. - The fires burning in Montana have covered much of the state in smoke, while also impacting air quality.

Smoke in the air poses a health concern, as gases and particles are taken in that can cause lung and eye issues.

Flathead County health officer Hillary Hanson explained the danger of smoke.

"What we're most concerned with is that fine particle, because that's what people are breathing into their lungs, and that's what can cause the issues," Hanson said.

According to Hanson, smoke is a combination of gases and particles that come from burning wood and other material.

The U.S. Forest Service said smoke is a majority water vapor, but the remaining gases include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. The combination has an impact felt across the state.

"My eyes are watering, and it's definitely a big bother," said Chelsea Vonderheid.

It is a growing concern for many Montanans.

"I'm just worried about the whole thing -- the air quality, the damage, the spreading," said Nancy Kaumeyer.

There is no timetable for when smoke will no longer impact residents, but Hanson believes it will remain for a while.

"This could be a couple months where we're really looking at air quality issues," said Hanson.

She said it is also important to monitor air quality and to plan outdoor activities accordingly.

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