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newsrel -- ARB issues health advisory for the greater Sacramento Valley and surrounding mountains Posted: 23 Jun 2008 15:55:04
Dangers from wildfire smoke should be recognized. Release 08-58 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 23, 2008 Dimitri Stanich (916)322-2825 www.arb.ca.gov ARB issues health advisory for the greater Sacramento Valley and surrounding mountains SACRAMENTO -- The California Air Resources Board and numerous local air quality agencies are advising people in the greater Sacramento Valley to protect their health from the smoke created by the many wildfires in the surrounding foothills and mountains. Recommendations for Minimizing Smoke Exposure * Stay indoors with windows and doors closed; run air-conditioner on "re-circulate" setting. Do not run swamp coolers or whole house fans. It is recommended that heat sensitive individuals use fans for cooling or they may consider leaving the area; * Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise, during smoky conditions; * People in a "high risk" group or those who cannot find adequate shelter from the smoke outside may need to move to a emergency shelter; and, * Disposable particulate respirators found at hardware stores can be effective at reducing exposure to smoke particles as long as they seal closely to the wearer's face. Look for respirators that have two straps and have the words "NIOSH" and either "P100" or "N95" printed on the filter material. Smoke may be dense at times, especially in areas near the fires, and may persist in mountain valleys during evening and early morning hours. Areas downwind of today's fires, including Chico, Ukiah, and the broader Sacramento area have recorded intermittent unhealthy levels today. The primary pollutant of concern is fine particles, which can be harmful to breathe, particularly for children, the elderly and those with preexisting respiratory and cardiac conditions. Residents may experience symptoms during and after exposure to smoke from the wildfires, including eye irritation, throat irritation, and coughing. Some people with existing heart and lung disease, including asthma, may experience heightened symptoms. Even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms in smoky conditions. Seek medical help if you experience symptoms that worsen or become severe. Public officials may take other precautions, including closing school and businesses, cancelling public events, and calling for evacuation. If you are evacuated, make sure to drive with the windows rolled up and the air conditioner on "re-circulate." With these fires, it's especially important for people with asthma or other respiratory diseases or heart conditions to monitor their health and consult with their health care providers if their symptoms worsen. Individuals with moderate or severe heart or respiratory disease might consider staying with relatives or friends who live away from the smoke during the fires. If smoke is already present in substantial quantities, such individuals may want to evaluate whether evacuation might actually cause greater exposure than staying at home using other precautions described above. Additionally, be aware that small pets in areas with unhealthy air should be brought indoors if possible. Fine particles from smoke can penetrate deeply into the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream, causing or aggravating heart and lung diseases. Persons most susceptible to particle pollution include those with heart and respiratory conditions, the elderly and young children. Symptoms of exposure to high particle levels include: irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; coughing; phlegm; chest pain or tightness; shortness of breath; and asthma attacks. In extreme cases, particle pollution can cause premature death. A wide range of sources contribute to particle pollution, including power plants and other industry, cars and trucks, wood stoves and outdoor fires. Smoke from the numerous wildfires in the mountains bordering the Sacramento Valley is the primary cause for high particle levels the valley is experiencing For current information about local smoke conditions, find your local air quality management group here: http://www.arb.ca.gov/capcoa/roster.htm More information on how to protect yourself is available here: http://www.airquality.org/smokeimpact/ For a guide for public officials on wildfire smoke go to: http://www.arb.ca.gov/smp/progdev/pubeduc/wfgv8.pdf . The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards. # # # # #