Air Quality Health Advisory

November 8, 2018 – The Public Health Officers for Yuba and Sutter counties and the Feather River Air Quality Management District are issuing a joint air quality health advisory to notify the public of potentially poor air quality conditions caused from smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County.

The current Air Quality Index levels are in the moderate range; however the fire is uncontained and spreading rapidly.  Smoke from the fire may impact Yuba and Sutter counties as long as the fire is uncontained and northerly winds persist.

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“Residents with lung or heart disease, and the elderly are advised to leave areas where levels of particulate matter are high.  For everyone else, when you smell smoke, or see smoke around you, you should consider staying indoors and avoiding heavy exertion,” cautions Lou Anne Cummings, MD, MPH, the Sutter County Health Officer.

Smoke density can vary widely from one local area to another and also with time of day.  “Air quality conditions depend on a number of factors, which include proximity to the fire, wind speed and direction, and whether inversions are present,” warns Christopher D. Brown, Air Pollution Control officer. 

You can check current conditions online at www.airnow.gov.  Residents can also sign up for air quality forecasts and alerts at www.fraqmd.org. Residents who see or smell smoke should consider these precautionary measures:

  • Healthy people should delay strenuous exercise, particularly when they can smell smoke.
  • Children and elderly people should consider avoiding outdoor activities, particularly prolonged outdoor exertion. Parents of children involved in youth sports programs should consider whether their children be allowed to participate when smoke is in the air.
  • People with health-related illnesses, particularly respiratory problems, should remain indoors.
  • Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.  Use the recycle or recirculate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
  • Avoid the use of non-HEPA paper face mask filters which are not capable of filtering extra fine particles.  Do not rely on HEPA face mask filters to do unnecessary outdoor activities.
  • Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water.  Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness, but does not filter out the hazardous smoke particles.
  •  Avoid the fire areas.

Wildfire smoke may contain particulate matter, ozone, carbon monoxide, and toxic air contaminants.  While all persons may experience varying degrees of symptoms, more sensitive individuals, such as the young, aged and those with respiratory conditions are at greatest risk of experiencing more aggravated symptoms.  Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, coughing, watery and itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing.  Persons experiencing questionable or severe symptoms should seek professional medical advice and treatment.