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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
June 23, 2008
Dimitri Stanich

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

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:

More information on how to protect yourself is available here:

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.

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