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Smoke from AZ and NM fires carries ash, poison – poorest air quality in ABQ history

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Wildfires are burning around New Mexico and it’s getting harder for residents to avoid all the smoke.

Smoke has been so thick in recent days that it’s caused health problems for many residents.

“It can make peoples’ eyes water. It can make their throats burn. It can be a real nuisance for some people that seem to be a little allergic to it,” Air Quality Meteorologist Jeff Stonesifer said.

When a big hot fire throws massive plumes of smoke into the air, the smoke will ride the prevailing winds that typically blow from southwest to northeast. The smoke cloud contains steam, carbon dioxide, compounds of nitrogen, partially burned particles called hydrocarbons, tiny pieces of dirt and ash and small amounts of poison like carbon monoxide.

The very thick smoke over the past few days has brought the poorest air quality in the history of Albuquerque.

“Your nose and your lungs can filter out the larger particles, but they can’t filter out the smaller particles,” Stonesifer said. “I’m not too worried about the carbon monoxide. I’m more worried about the particulate matter and the little bit of toxic stuff in there. You know, cigarette smoke causes health problems too and that has a lot of the same stuff.”

Air quality experts still point to visibility as being the main indicator of how poor local air quality is because you can observe the changes much quicker than monitoring devices can detect and report it.

Source: KOAT News 7 | 1:40 pm MDT June 15, 2011

Here are a few videos taken from my home in Albuquerque of the smoke which has been moving in and out of the city.

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