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Health officials concerned about long term exposure to fire smoke

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MISSOULA -

With more than a month of unhealthy air health officials at Missoula City-County Health Department said they are becoming concerned about the consequences of long-term exposure to fire smoke. 

Especially, in areas like Seeley Lake air where air quality is hazardous most days for homeowners.

Air Quality Specialist, Sarah Coefield with Missoula’s health department said there isn't a lot of research on long term exposure to fire smoke.

Coefield said it's never been monitored before because up till the 90s fires tended to be stomped out as soon as they started.

"You didn't have such long fires from that perspective. But now we are having hotter, longer and drier summers in fire season because of climate change,” said Coefield.

However, with seeing long term exposure to poor air quality, Coefield reached out to officials in Health Canada for answers, who research in fire smoke.

"I reached out to them. They had no the opportunities to do research on this type of exposure level,” said Coefield.

Coefield added eventually Health Canada brought in other experts like from Australia who may know more and in the end nothing was found.

"It's hard to not to be horrified by the numbers and really wish we knew more specifics of what it might mean for the people who are living in Seeley Lake,” said Coefield.

She also said they were told to maybe explore firefighter exposure studies.

Coefield explained that the research won't help them because, it focuses on firefighters, who are generally young, fit and willing to put their lungs at risk.

However, Missoula Health Officials might have people from the University of Montana do more research on it, but nothing is official.

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