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General Contact Number: (530) 621-5567

2014

Wildfire Smoke Advisory
 
Department:
 
Public Health

Date:
9/17/2014
Contact:
Kristine Oase Guth

Phone:
530-621-7582

The King Fire is creating smoky conditions in some areas of El Dorado County, prompting the County Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and Health and Human Services Agency – Public Health Division to issue an advisory. Officials expect that El Dorado County may continue to be affected on an intermittent basis for quite some time. 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 heart and/or respiratory 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 the following precautions:  

  • Healthy people should delay strenuous outdoor 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 heart and/or respiratory 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. 
  •  Consider keeping pets indoors, if possible, until the smoke has cleared. 

Wildfire smoke can cause coughing, watery and itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing. People with questionable or severe symptoms should seek medical advice.  AQMD has placed air monitoring equipment in the following locations:  Pinewood Elementary School in Pollock Pines, El Dorado County Fire Department in Camino, Garden Valley Fire Department in Garden Valley and South Tahoe High School in South Lake Tahoe.  Monitoring data is being collected. Air Quality Index (AQI) values derived from this data can be viewed at AirNow’s Wildfires and Air Quality Page: http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=topics.smoke_wildfires.  Currently, only the monitor in Camino is visible here, but the site administrators are working on getting all four monitors onto the site.  Monitoring information is also available at http://californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com.  

Additionally, when there is smoke in the air, the smoke visibility index (below) 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. 

Visibility
Range (miles) 

 Particulate Matter Level 
(1-hour average,
μg/m3)   

Health Category 

Precautions 

10+ 

0 – 38 

Good 

None 

5 – 10 

39 - 88 

Moderate 

Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.  

3 – 5 

89 – 138 

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 

Sensitive people should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.  

1.5 – 3 

139 – 350 

Unhealthy 

Sensitive people should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.  

1 – 1.5 

351 – 526 

Very Unhealthy 

Sensitive people should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.  

< 1 miles 

Over 526 

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 www.edcgov.us/airqualitymanagement. For updates on local fires, contact the CAL FIRE public information line at (530) 647-5218.               

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