Wildfire smoke advisory

By From page A9 | July 15, 2013

The Kyburz Fire and other wildfires in the region are creating smoky conditions in some areas of El Dorado County, prompting the county Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and Health Services Department to issue an advisory. Officials expect that El Dorado County may continue to be affected on an intermittent basis. Smoke conditions can vary a great deal in El Dorado County because of the terrain, wind direction and weather.

Fine particles in smoke can cause health issues, especially for children, older people or those with lung problems. “If you see or smell smoke you should limit outdoor activity,” said Dave Johnston, El Dorado County Air Pollution Control officer. Residents who see or smell smoke should consider taking precautions:

• Healthy people should delay strenuous exercise until the smoke has cleared.
• Children and older people should consider avoiding outdoor activity, especially prolonged outdoor exercise.
• People with health-related illnesses, particularly those with lung problems, should stay indoors.
• Windows and doors should stay closed as much as possible. Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home and car.
• Avoid using non-HEPA paper face mask filters that do not filter extra fine particles.
• Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water.

Wildfire smoke can cause coughing, watery and itchy eyes and difficulty breathing. People with questionable or severe symptoms should seek medical advice. When there is smoke in the air, the smoke visibility index can help people assess the air quality based on visibility in their area.

To assess visibility:

• Face away from the sun. Determine visibility range by looking for targets that are at known distances (miles).
• The visibility range is the distance at which high-contrast objects disappear.
• After determining visibility in miles, use the following Wildfire Smoke Visibility Index to assess air quality.
• 10-plus miles of visibility range is good, and no precautions are necessary. If the range is 5-10 miles, which is moderate, “unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.” If the range is 3-5 miles, which is “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,” “sensitive people should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.” If the range is 1.5-3 miles, which is “Unhealthy,” “sensitive people should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.” If the range is 1-1.5 miles, which is “Very Unhealthy,” “sensitive people should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.” And if the range is less than 1 mile, which is “Hazardous,” “sensitive people should remain indoors and keep activity levels low. Everyone else should avoid all physical activity outdoors.”

For more information about air quality issues in El Dorado County, visit AQMD’s Website at For updates on local fires, contact the Cal Fire public information line at 530-647-5218.

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