‘Wet towels, bandanas, dust masks don’t help with smoke’


The Commonwealth Health Care Corp. yesterday advised the public that wet towels, bandanas, and even dust masks are of little help when it comes to dealing with complications from wildfire smoke.

The corporation, in reaction to a string of wildfire smoke on Mt. Tapochau, noted that wildfire smoke can be the root of several respiratory problems with severities that vary depending on age.

“…This is a good time to remind the public of the risk of wildfire smoke to your health,” CHCC medical director of public health Dr. Phuong Luu said in a statement, adding that towels, bandanas, and dust masks barely helps with wildfire smoke.

“…[They] can stop the large particles, but not the fine, small ones that can get into the lungs and cause irritation,” the statement continued.

The corporation noted that possible complications from wildfire smoke exposure can cause watery or dry eyes; coughing; wheezing; scratchy throat; headaches; shortness of breath; irregular heartbeat; chest pains; and even asthma or lung irritations.

“Wildfire smoke is a combination of gases and fine particles from the trees and other plant materials that burned,” the corporation warned. “The smoke can irritate your eyes, nose, and make your lungs and heart conditions much worse. The amount and length of exposure to the smoke, as well as your age and medical conditions, will dictate how at risk you are of complications from the wildfire smoke,” the announcement continued.

According to the corporation, exposure to wildfire smoke can worsen symptoms to those who have lung and heart conditions and those who are sensitive to air pollution, including people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; people with heart disease; elderly people; infants and children; pregnant women; and even long-time smokers.

The corporation highly recommends to seek medical attention from a doctor or head to the CHCC emergency department if you are experiencing any symptoms related to wildfire smoke exposure.

CHCC further recommends to stay indoors as much as possible if you have consistent access to air conditioning; using a high efficiency air-cleaning filter if available; avoid vacuuming; set car air conditioning settings to recirculate while driving; drink water to help with scratchy throats and coughing; and to move away from the area of the smoke especially if you have an underlying lung or heart disease that can worsen with smoke exposure.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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