Pacific Northwest Wildfires forcing Boise State to make changes

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By: Addison Dehaven

Most people in the Northwest are accustomed to dealing with wildfires in late summer, referred to sometimes as “wildfire season.” Rarely though does “wildfire season” stretch into September, making this large amount of active fires especially concerning.

According to NASA, there are 28 fires burning in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho combined, each fire burning at least 1,000 acres with the largest fire in each state burning at least 150,000 acres.

A combination of a hot, dry summer and improper fireworks use have the set Pacific Northwest ablaze, blanketing much of the region in smoke.

Boise has avoided all major wildfires (so far), but has been suffocated by smoke, creating a thick haze throughout the city.

The air quality in Boise has been the greatest repercussion with the fire, as it has been labeled as “unhealthy” since Sept. 5.

“People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.” said the Department of Public Safety about the levels reaching “very unhealthy” on Sept. 6.

The “very unhealthy” air levels have caused Boise State Athletics to move all activities indoors and, cancel the first meet of the cross country season.

But just how dangerous is it to exercise outdoors during this smoke-pocalypse?

“Well in terms of long-term damage, there isn’t really much that will happen,” says Tyler Smith, Associate Athletic Trainer at Boise State. “If someone were to exercise day in and day out in “unhealthy” air quality levels, then I could see some long term damage, but that would have to be after weeks of dealing this level of smoke.”

In the short-term there isn’t much permanent damage that will happen, says Smith. “The biggest effect of prolonged exercise in this level of smoke, is really just mild irritation of the throat and maybe a cough, both of which will go away after a few days. People with asthma will have more problems than everyone else however.”  

People have tried to make use of surgical masks and bandanas to avoid the smoke but according to Smith, they do little to help. “Even if you cover your mouth with something like a mask or bandana, air can still get into your mouth, meaning that smoke can also get in. Avoiding activity  outside is really the only way to stop the smoke particles from getting in your lungs.”

Try to breathe easy though Boise State students, as rain is in the forecast for the Pacific Northwest which will hopefully release Boise from this chokehold of smoke and allow everyone to enjoy the start of fall.

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