Kisatchie National Forest Control Burns Can Have Health Effects

The U.S. Forest Service has been conducting control burns in the Kisatchie National Forest this month and smoke from the fires can have effects on the health of those living near them.  ABC 31 News’ Joel Massey has more from the medical director of the office of public health.

Dr. David Holcombe with the Office of Public Health said, “Control burns are very important for the health of the forest because they eliminate underbrush so that fires do not become so hot it kills the trees however the smoke from that can affect people living in and around the areas and it is an irritant for some people especially folks who are very sensitive.”

Since February 19 the U.S. Forest Service has been control burning in the Kisatchie National Forest.  KLAX was contacted by an individual living in the area who was experiencing respiratory problems and migraines that she attributes to the smoke.  Holcombe talks about the problems folks living near control burns can face.

“Folks that are real sensitive to this they can have bronco spasms, they can have coughing, they can have nasal congestion or pulmonary congestion so it does affect people and if they have preexisting medical problems then it’s worse.”

Holcombe has some tips for people who may be exposed to smoke from control burns.

“There’s going to be people who live in and around these areas and then the smoke won’t stay in place it does move around.  So folks generally should stay indoors because your indoor air is not going to be as affected, and they actually can leave on their air conditioning because that acts as a filter.  So staying indoors and then using their regular medications that they would use for pulmonary problems, inhalers or whatever.”

Holcombe says it’s a balance to weight the needs of forest maintenance and people’s health concerning control burns.

“There’s always going to be some tension between those two.  The wood industry is the largest industry in Central Louisiana.  So it has a huge economic impact.”