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Wildfire Smoke

For Immediate Release

August 13, 2012                                

Contact:  Lori Pini, Health Education Specialist, (530) 283-6988                            

Air Quality Advisory for August 13th – August 17th, 2012

Plumas County Public Health Agency (PCPHA) and Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (NSAQMD) are issuing this update to notify residents of air quality that is of varying levels throughout the county due to wildfire smoke.  Readings from air quality monitors in Greenville, Lake Almanor and Chester have ranged from Moderate to Unhealthy.  See chart below.

Keep in mind that air quality can change rapidly at different times during the day, depending on fire and wind conditions.  It is important to monitor smoke levels in your area throughout the day and make outdoor plans accordingly.  Air quality is expected to be affected in localized areas until the wildfire is under control and extinguished.

People should use this general rule of thumb:  If you can see and smell smoke around you, you are most likely being exposed to unhealthy smoke levels.  The more smoke you see and smell, the more unhealthy the exposure.  When air quality is poor, stay indoors and reduce levels of outdoor activity.

Sensitive groups, for which smoky conditions can be unhealthy, are: young children, the elderly, those with heart conditions, and anyone with respiratory ailments such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.  We urge these residents in particular to take precautions whenever smoke is present, though all residents should use common sense.   

Plumas County does not have access to continuous air quality monitoring in all of its communities.  Instantaneous readings in various areas in the county have been at the “good” level.  Even in areas that do have monitors, visibility can serve as a quick way to assess smoke levels, as smoke concentrations can vary widely within a couple of miles and change rapidly. 

Below is a visibility chart to estimate the air quality in your area, make sure to take the following steps:

  • Face away from the sun
  • Determine the limit of your visibility range by looking at something at a known distance (miles).  The visibility range is the point at which even high-contrast objects (e.g. dark mountain against the sky at noon) totally disappear.
  • After determining visibility in miles, use the table to identify the level of health concern and the actions you might take to protect you and your family.

The visibility chart below may be used to estimate the air quality in your area
Estimating Air Quality Index Levels from Visibility


Air Quality Index

Level of Health Concern

Precautionary Actions

Visibility Range in Miles

0-50

Good

None

10+ miles

51-100

Moderate

Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion

5-10 miles

101-150

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should limit time spent outdoors and reduce prolonged or heavy exertion

3-5 miles

151-200

Unhealthy

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should stay indoors and reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.  Everyone should limit time spent outdoors and avoid prolonged or heavy exertion

1.5-3 miles

201-300

Very Unhealthy

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activities outdoors.  Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion

1-1.5 miles

301-500

Hazardous

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low.  Everyone else should avoid all physical activity outdoors

Less than 1 mile

For information on fire conditions, please visit www.plumascounty.us
###


Additional Resources:


Information regarding the Chips fire can be found at:  http://www.plumascounty.us/index.aspx?NID=2210

August 7, 2012
Wildfire Smoke and your Health


Plumas County Public Health Officer Dr. Val Armisen advises residents with sensitive health conditions to stay alert to changing smoke levels caused by the Chips Fire and be prepared to act accordingly. 

Smoky conditions can be hazardous for certain high risk groups such as young children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung disease such as asthma and bronchitis, and individuals with other respiratory ailments.  Residents in these high risk groups who are in areas of heavy smoke should be prepared to stay indoors and limit their activity. 


Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue.  This is important for not only people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses.  Smoke can "unmask" or produce symptoms of such diseases. 
Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water. Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness. 

The use of masks is not recommended for people with lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema, elderly people, and others who may have trouble breathing.  It takes more effort to breathe through a mask, increasing the risk of heat stress or enhancing your lung disease.  If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous or become disoriented, go to a smoke free area and get medical attention.


What to do if there is smoke present:

  • Stay inside with windows and doors shut.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
  • Avoid cooking and vacuuming, which can increase pollutants indoors.
  • Avoid physical exertion.
  • Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.
  • Keep at least a five-day supply of medication on hand.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue. This is important for not only for people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can “unmask” or produce symptoms of such diseases.
  • Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water. Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness.

For information on fire conditions and local air quality updates, please visit www.plumascounty.us

Information from the American Lung Association: 
http://www.lung.org/healthy-air/outdoor/protecting-your-health/what-makes-air-unhealthy/forest-fires-respiratory-health-fact-sheet.html



August 3, 2012
Contact: Lori Pini, Health Education Specialist, (530) 283-6988
Air Quality Advisory for August 2nd – August 8th, 2012

Plumas County Public Health Agency (PCPHA) and Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (NSAQMD) are issuing this update to notify residents of air quality that is of varying levels throughout the county due to wildfire smoke. Keep in mind that air quality can change rapidly at different times during the day, depending on fire and wind conditions. It is important to monitor smoke levels in your area throughout the day and make outdoor plans accordingly. Air quality is expected to be affected in localized areas until the wildfire is under control and extinguished.

People should use this general rule of thumb: If you can see and smell smoke around you, you are most likely being exposed to unhealthy smoke levels. The more smoke you see and smell, the more unhealthy the exposure. When air quality is poor, stay indoors and reduce levels of outdoor activity.
Sensitive groups, for which smoky conditions can be unhealthy, are: young children, the elderly, those with heart conditions, and anyone with respiratory ailments such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. We urge these residents in particular to take precautions whenever smoke is present, though all residents should use common sense.

Plumas County does not have access to continuous air quality monitoring in all of its communities. Instantaneous readings in various areas in the county have been at the “good” level. Even in areas that do have monitors, visibility can serve as a quick way to assess smoke levels, as smoke concentrations can vary widely within a couple of miles and change rapidly.

Below is a visibility chart to estimate the air quality in your area, make sure to take the following steps:
• Face away from the sun
• Determine the limit of your visibility range by looking at something at a known distance (miles). The visibility range is the point at which even high-contrast objects (e.g. dark mountain against the sky at noon) totally disappear.
• After determining visibility in miles, use the table to identify the level of health concern and the actions you might take to protect you and your family.

THE VISIBILITY CHART BELOW MAY BE USED TO ESTIMATE THE AIR QUALITY IN YOUR AREA

Estimating Air Quality Index Levels from Visibility

 

Air Quality Index

Level of Health Concern

Precautionary Actions

Visibility Range in Miles

0-50

Good

None

10+ miles

51-100

Moderate

Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion

5-10 miles

101-150

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should limit time spent outdoors and reduce prolonged or heavy exertion

3-5 miles

151-200

Unhealthy

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should stay indoors and reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.  Everyone should limit time spent outdoors and avoid prolonged or heavy exertion

1.5-3 miles

201-300

Very Unhealthy

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activities outdoors.  Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion

1-1.5 miles

301-500

Hazardous

People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low.  Everyone else should avoid all physical activity outdoors

Less than 1 mile

   


Additional information regarding your health and wildfire smoke can be found at:
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Wildfires/

Air Quality information can be found at:
http://www.myairdistrict.com/

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