The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (NCUAQMD), and the Humboldt County and Trinity County Departments of Health and Human Services Public Health Branches would like to help you prepare in the event of wildfires. If a wildfire breaks out in your area, please be aware of the following information. Air Quality Alerts are issued by the NCUAQMD in conjunction with the Humboldt County and Trinity County Departments of Health and Human Services Public Health Branches when the air in an area becomes unhealthy or hazardous. If you live in or plan to travel in an area that may be affected by wildfire smoke, check for alerts by calling 1-(866)burn-day or 1-(866) 287-6329. Air Quality Alerts can also be found at www.ncuaqmd.org. If you have health concerns, are elderly, pregnant, or have a child in your care, consider talking with your doctor now about what to do if the air becomes smoky. Remember that in 2008 over 600,000 acres burned in this area and eight Hazardous Air Quality Alerts were issued.
Concentrations of smoke will vary depending upon location, weather, and distance to the fire. Smoke from wildfires and structure fires contain harmful chemicals that can affect your health. Smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
People who are at greatest risk of experiencing symptoms due to smoke include young children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with respiratory disease such as asthma and/or heart disease. If you or members of your family have lung or heart disease, contact your doctor immediately if you have symptoms that get worse. Even healthy adults can be affected by smoke. If you are in a wildfire prone area, consider buying an air purifier to use in the event of smoky air.
Some air cleaners can help reduce indoor pollutants if they are the right type and size for your home. Air cleaners with ozone generators are not appropriate for home use. The Air Resources Board recommends avoiding them. Ozone is a gas that can cause health problems including lung irritation and breathing difficulty. Go towww.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/residair.html for more information about aircleaners or air purifiers.
For more information call the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District at (707) 443-3093, Humboldt County Public Health at (707) 445-6200, or Trinity County Public Health at (530) 623-1265.