Air Quality May Worsen As Fires Continue

KNOXVILLE – Dry weather in East Tennessee has kept alive the threat of more wildfires. One fire in Sevier County has consumed more than 1,200 acres of woodland.

A University of Tennessee air quality expert says if the fires continue to spread, the quality of air may drop sharply.

“Recent and ongoing forest fires have resulted in unusually-high concentrations of particulate matter in the East Tennessee area, with some areas exceeding local air quality standards,” said Dr. Wayne Davis. “This causes respiratory problems, particularly for those most susceptible, such as the elderly, the young, and those with known respiratory problems.”

Davis says residents can do a few things to keep their indoor air from being polluted by smoke from forest fires.

“During such periods, people need to refrain from exercising outdoors,” Davis said. “They should stay inside, keep doors and windows closed to minimize exposure to outside smoke.”

Davis says people with central heat and air systems should place their fan on continuous recirculation, to keep out the smoke from forest fires.