State Health Department Issues Alert on Smoke from Fort Drum Fires Burning in Northern New York

Fine Particles from Fort Drum Fires May Exacerbate Certain Medical Conditions

Albany, September 9, 2002 – State Health officials are cautioning New Yorkers living in the Northern Region of the State about fine particles from brush fires burning at Fort Drum Military Base in Jefferson County. Exposure to this particulate matter may produce or worsen symptoms in individuals with chronic respiratory disease or cardiovascular conditions. This alert is for areas around Fort Drum including St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson and Franklin Counties. Other nearby counties could be effected when the weather changes.

Until the fires burning at Fort Drum are extinguished, fine particles may contribute to poor air quality in areas downwind of the base. The particles appear as a haze that reduces visibility. The presence of haze is dependent on the size and location of the fires and the weather.

People should consider limiting strenuous outdoor activity under these conditions and when an ozone advisory is in effect. Caution is especially advised for those with pre–existing respiratory and/or cardiovascular conditions, as fine particles can aggravate these conditions. Respiratory symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing. People experiencing symptoms, particularly those with these pre–existing medical conditions, should contact their healthcare provider. Keeping windows closed and turning on air conditioning may also help to reduce exposure and alleviate symptoms.

To find out if an ozone advisory has been issued for your area, contact the State Department of Environmental Conservation's toll–free ozone hotline: 1–800–535–1345 or visit their web site at www.dec.state.ny.us.

9/9/02–96 OPA