Fire Affects Air Quality

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By Monday afternoon the fire at Kamps Pallets, in Benton Township, had been burning for nearly 24 hours.

"Just the wood basically, it was all pallets and that sort of thing, wire burned and transformers," says Potterville Benton Township Fire Chief Jack Fox.

For the next couple of days, the wind is expected to blow at only five to fifteen miles per hour. That means depending on how long the fire burns, the smoke could hover above Benton Township indefinitely.

"The good quality air goes down because there is carbon monoxide and other things which are produced due to the combustion," explains Venkatesh Kodur of MSU's Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

"The particulate matter can be irritating, can cause a cough, a bronchitis syndrome. Or if you're prone to asthma, can actually cause airway inflammation and an asthma attack," says Sparrow Hospital pulmonologist Dr. Larry Rawsthorne.

Smoke can also can also cause irritation to the eyes. While the fire is in an open area, it's best to stay indoors, especially if you suffer from conditions like emphysema or lung disease.

"Look where you are and where the prevailing winds are going, and if you're going to be downwind of an area, you might want to leave for a while until you're sure the area's cleared," says Dr. Rawsthorne.

But even once the fire has stopped and the smoke has gone --- it can still take days before the air is neutralized once again.

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