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Frequently asked questions about exposure to wildfire smoke
Published on November 16, 2018
What is our current air quality?
Placer County is currently experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County. Air quality can vary throughout the day, but in recent days the air quality has reached “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy” levels in the western region of the county. As a result, Placer County is strongly urging members of the public to take precautions amidst these unusual conditions.
What are the health risks?
Smoke exposure has the potential to cause negative health impacts, especially when exposure is prolonged. While all people may experience varying degrees of symptoms, the more sensitive individuals - such as young, aged and those with respiratory and cardiac conditions - are at the greatest risk of experiencing more aggravated symptoms. Symptoms may include but are not limited to coughing, watery and itchy eyes, scratchy throat and difficulty in breathing.
What can I do?
The number one thing you can do to protect your health is to stay indoors, with windows and doors closed.
If your home HVAC or vehicle ventilation system is on, use the “recirculation” setting, when available. Limit or avoid outdoor exertion and physical activity.
Should I wear an N95 mask?
For the general public, the best way to avoid harmful smoke exposure is to remain indoors. Those whose occupation requires long periods outdoors should consult with their employer and/or medical professionals about mask use.
Placer County is not distributing masks to county employees or the general public. N95 or other respiratory protection may be provided by some departments to certain county staff who must work outdoors or in other areas with poor air quality.
Is it safe for my child at school?
Placer County Public Health has recommended that schools restrict all outdoor activity including lunch, recess and physical education, as health impacts often result from prolonged exposure or strenuous activity. Typically, short periods of outdoor exposure (such as transitioning from one classroom to another) are not a cause for concern. If your child has a respiratory or cardiac medical condition, please consult your physician for guidance. Individual school districts are responsible for closure decisions based on conditions at their facilities.
More information can be found in the Placer County air quality advisory or online at Wildfire Smoke or Spare the Air.