Smoke Impacting Air Quality in Lake County Caution is Recommended
Fires are active in Northern and Central California and Southern Oregon. The main fires generating the smoke impacting Lake County include the Lodge Fire in Mendocino County and even the El Portal and Dark Hole Fires in Mariposa County affect Lake County during specific meteorological conditions. Current weather forecasts indicate west winds should setup through the end of the week, helping to clear the smoke out of the Basin, though smoke is expected to follow drainages and fan out into areas of the North Shore in the overnight and morning hours.
The current one hour average measurement in Lakeport is less than 50% of allowed Federal health-based ultrafine particulate standards, designed to protect sensitive groups of the population from potentially harmful, respirable particulate and the ultrafine, inhalable, particulate. These levels are expected to increase at times and in localized areas with potential to reach levels that are unhealthy for sensitive individuals in areas of the County until the fires are contained.
Though conditions are still in the good to moderate air quality range in Lakeport, isolated areas throughout Lake County may experience air quality in the moderate to unhealthy for sensitive individuals range as the smoke settles. Regional weather patterns suggest continued smoke impacts for the next couple days, with relief possible by late this week as a west/southwest wind pattern develops.
Lake County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Tait advises area residents to be cautious in resuming normal outdoor activities. “Variable weather conditions and ongoing fire activity may result in localized areas of reduced air quality, which could still pose health risks to people with underlying health conditions. Since we can’t always predict when and where ‘pockets’ of poorer air quality may occur, it is prudent to be careful until conditions stabilize.” Smokey conditions can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and air passages, which can be hazardous in young children, the elderly, individuals with heart conditions or chronic lung disease such as asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions.
Individuals with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other lung or heart diseases should carefully adhere to their medical treatment plans and maintain at least a five-day supply of prescribed medications. They should limit outdoor activity and unnecessary physical exertion. Air conditioning that recirculates indoor air should be used, when available. Drinking plenty of water to avoid drying of the airways is recommended, unless restricted for medical reasons.
Dust masks are not protective against the most harmful pollutants caused by wildfire smoke that drifts to nearby areas. They are useful in filtering out the ash and larger particles that are encountered in burn areas. Air purifying respirators, such as N-95filtering face pieces, may be effective in reducing harmful particulate matter, but also increase the work of breathing, can lead to physiologic stress, and are not recommended as a general protective measure.
Regional haze and particulate from these fires are expected to continue throughout Lake County until the fires are out.