How wildfire smoke can impact your health

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Alex Huffman may live in Denver, but he’s spent years at his family’s cabin in Gallinas Canyon.

"There’s nothing I can do physically to solve the problems. but as an aerosol scientist, I can at least raise awareness of some of the things that we can do and that you can do to help yourself stay safer, he said.

Huffman said the wildfires across New Mexico have been weighing heavy on his heart, and now he wants to warn those affected about the dangers of breathing in all of the smoke.

He said you can feel it in your lungs, especially if it’s really concentrated. It can cause significant health effects in the short term, and also have long-term respiratory and cardiovascular effects. The bottom line, Huffman said, is it’s really not good to breathe in.

So what can you do if you’re in an area with heavy smoke?

Huffman said a mask will help to block out the harmful particles, but a cloth or surgical mask will not do enough.

"You need a high quality, tight-fitting N95 mask; that will do a tremendous job to prevent the inhalation of the small particles that come from wildfire smoke," he said.

Areas away from the immediate source of the smoke can still be affected as well. Communities that are downwind can get very smokey too.

As donations continue to roll in for those affected by the fires, Huffman said he urges the public to donate N95 masks.