Advisory for July 3 through July 6, 2008
Placer County, CA July 3, 2008 – Continued smoky conditions are widespread in Placer County from the valley floor to the Lake Tahoe area. Smoke continues to impact Placer County from fires burning in the county and throughout Northern California. Average concentrations of fine particulates (PM2.5) continue to fluctuate throughout the day in certain areas, ranging from hazardous to fair conditions.
Due to ongoing smoke generated from fires, Tom Christofk, Placer County Air Pollution Control Officer and Dr. Richard Burton, MD, Placer County’s Health Officer, are issuing this updated air quality advisory. If the current weather conditions remain through Sunday, as predicted, the County can expect long periods of poor air quality with possible improvements in some areas. Forecasted wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour may also increase smoke formation from the local Yuba and American River Complex Fires and directly impact local areas downwind from these fires.
Residents are reminded to take common-sense precautions as Placer County will continue to be affected. If visibility is poor in your area, then you should strongly consider postponing outdoor activities until later in the day or when conditions improve. On the other hand, areas such as Colfax and Auburn have seen moments of improvement, especially in the afternoon hours and these times may be the best opportunities to conduct outdoor activities.
Particulate matter, found within smoke from fire, contains a multitude of particles, such as wood tar vapors and toxic gases. Other pollutants found in smoke are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons. Scientific studies have linked the fine particles associated with smoke with a variety of significant health problems. Symptoms include eye irritation, throat irritation, and coughing. People with existing heart and lung disease, including asthma, may experience heightened symptoms. They should monitor their health and consult with their health care provider should their symptoms worsen. Even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms in smoky conditions. Seek medical help if you experience symptoms that worsen or become severe.
Dr. Burton and Christofk urge residents to keep in mind the following recommendations when they are in smoky conditions:
Healthy people should delay outdoor strenuous exercise.
Children and elderly people should avoid outdoor activities, particularly prolonged outdoor exertion.
People with specific illnesses, particularly respiratory problems, should remain indoors.
Using paper mask filters, which are not capable of filtering extra-fine smoke particles, and which restrict airflow, is not recommended.
Stay inside with doors and windows shut. Use the recycle or recirculate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. Avoid cooking and vacuuming, which can increase pollutants indoors.
Asthmatics should follow their asthma-management plans.
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 symptom of such diseases.
Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water. Room humidifiers might also provide some comfort.
Use the following index to assess the air quality based on the visibility in a given area:
- Face away from the sun. Determine visibility range by looking for targets that are at known distances (miles).
- The visible range is the point where even high-contrast objects disappear.
- After determining visibility in miles use the following Wildfire Smoke Visibility Index to assess air quality.