Less than 30 minutes of smoke exposure can cause health risks for children

Local pediatrician explains symptoms for smoke exposure

A pediatrician in Pasco is warning local families about the effect of smoke exposure in small children including shortness of breath, coughing and asthmatic reactions.

Dr. Sean Brady, a pediatric doctor of osteopathic medicine for Kadlec Primary Care, said wildfires and smoke is a common occurrence in the region but he has never seen such bad conditions before. Since Monday, his office has already treated patients for asthma related illnesses caused by the smoke. He said children need to be indoors because it won’t take long for a child to start should symptoms caused by the conditions.

“Children start to get irritation in their lungs and their mouth,” Dr. Brady said, “What you notice is first is sometimes the eyes will start to water or they might even complain of some sore throat or hoarse voice. Then what happens is it can even get into the lungs of these little ones and they can get asthma flare ups or just coughing a lot.”

Less than 30 minutes outside can cause these types of symptoms in a child or even an adult. Lungs start to become more developed around 8-years-old, meaning younger individuals are more at risk of being impacted but older children and adults should also take caution.

“Everyone should be inside as much as possible for right now,” he said, “the little ones, preschool age, and even kindergarten or first grade, their lungs are still developing. So there’s a lot going on there with them. Keep them inside is the big thing. If they are teenagers, a little bit older, maybe not so much, but if they have really bad asthma, it can start pretty quickly.”

Dr. Brady compared the conditions outside to cigarette smoke due to the chemicals released into the air.

“All the combustion from fires can release pretty harmful chemicals,” he said, “It’s not unlike cigarettes and even smoking those combustion chemicals, which you get from a cigarette, are actually kind of similar to the particles that are outside.”

According to Dr. Brady, if parents notice a reaction in their child they should get them a glass of water, let them relax and try to catch their breath. He said a small dose of Benadryl can also help a child relax and help with the physical response to the smoke. The symptoms should subside within a short period of time but if the child is still having trouble, they should seek medical attention.