Although health advisories have been posted in the region surrounding the nearly-12,000-acre Milepost 97 wildfire in Southern Oregon, California air-quality officials say a number of factors are keeping the smoke away from Crescent City and Del Norte County.
“Coastal areas are expected to remain good, with periods of moderate air quality,” the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District posted in its latest public advisory in discussing the wildfire smoke.
“Gasquet and eastern Del Norte County are forecast to see good to moderate,” continued the advisory, “with periods of unhealthy for sensitive groups.”
Debra Harris, a California district representative, said terrain is a key factor in the better air quality here.
“The wildfire smoke comes along the coast and kind of bounces out at Crescent City and back in south of the area,” she said. “But we can see the smoke high up inland here in Eureka.”
Harris said a low-pressure system also is helping cleanse the air locally.
The state’s north coast management unit continuously checks the region’s air quality through a system of monitoring stations, including one in Crescent City. However, Harris said, that particular monitoring station presently showing inaccurate readings because of internet connection issues.
Other monitoring stations are located at Eureka and Weaverville.
The air-quality agency also uses a national system to alert the public about air quality. The following is the air-quality index rating:
No actions required.
Unusually sensitive individuals should consider limiting prolonged or heavy exertion.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
People within sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion (Sensitive groups are people with heart or lung disease, the elderly, children and pregnant women).
People within sensitive groups should avoid all physical outdoor activity.
Very Unhealthy - Everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.
Hazardous - Everyone should avoid any outdoor activity.
According to air-quality agencies, concentrations of smoke may vary depending upon location, weather and distance from the fire.
Smoke from wildfires and structure fires contain harmful chemicals that can affect health. Smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing and difficulty breathing.
People at greatest risk of experiencing symptoms caused by smoke include those with respiratory disease (such as asthma), those with heart disease, young children and older adults.
Government agencies encourage residents to follow these precautions to protect health during a smoke “event”:
• Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise.
• Stay indoors, with windows and doors closed, as much as possible.
• Don’t run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside (e.g., swamp coolers, whole-house fans, and fresh-air ventilation systems.
• Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors. Change the standard air conditioner filter to a medium or high-efficiency filter. If available, use a “re-circulate” or “recycle” setting on the unit.
• Do not smoke, fry food, or do other things that will create indoor air pollution. Consider leaving the area until smoke conditions improve if you have repeated coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.
For 24-hour air-quality advisory information, call 866-287-6329. For more information, go to www.ncuaqmd.org.