IH should speak up on the long term impacts of wildfire smoke

Two & Out
By James Peters
September 15, 2017 - 4:49pm

KAMLOOPS — I think we've done it, Kamloops.

Cross your fingers, knock on wood.

Don't knock too hard, though, you might start a fire.

But all indications are, the worst of the fire season is behind us.

For hundreds of people who lost their homes, the nightmare won't end for a while.

For the majority of us, the worst of it is over.

And by the worst of it, we mean the horrible, thick, pea soup fog that wasn't actually fog.

It was wildfire smoke, and it was downright oppressive for most of the summer.

Young folk with hearty respiratory systems fared well.

A lot of other people whether elderly or with compromised respiratory systems, have been in hell.

The only people to benefit are the Walmarts and Costcos and Aberdeen Malls of the world - large, air-conditioned buildings where people can mill about and waste time without being outside in the choking haze.

Even then, it was impossible for anyone to completely avoid it.

A few weeks ago, Dr. Michael Mehta from TRU questioned why Interior Health was downplaying the potential long term negative health impacts from the smoke.

If a health authority's primary position is to be extra cautious, why say "everything is going to be okay?"

We have to ask that question again.

The air we breathed in this valley this summer is unlike anything most of us have breathed before.

It is only typically experienced by firefighters themselves, and we know firefighters experience higher rates of lung illnesses than the general population.

Certainly, we can't expect the same to happen to us valley dwellers after one summer of smoke.

Or can we?

We need to hear more from public health officials about what we can expect in the coming months and years, considering what we have just experienced.

Some might consider this an overreaction, but when it comes to respiratory health, overreaction is hardly possible.