June 24, 2008 | Back to: Local News

Unhealthy air keeps seniors and children indoors

Seniors in retirement facilities and nursing homes countywide are being kept indoors, with their windows closed and away from outside activities due to the poor air quality today, administrators at local nursing homes said.

"We are providing our seniors indoor activities like videogames and cards," said Lynette Zaborowski, activities director at Hilltop Commons in Grass Valley. "They are not able to go our into the patio area. We also have a walking club, whose members won't be walking outside this afternoon."

Yvonne Felker, a nurse at the Spring Hill Manor Rehabilitation and Convalescent Hospital in Grass Valley, said residents were "keeping the air-conditioning on and all the doors and windows closed."

"The outside courtyard is not open today," Felker said. "There are no outdoor activities."

The level of carbon particles in the air today has reached a hazardous level, according to Joe Fish, deputy air pollution control officer with the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District.

"It's as bad as it gets," Fish said. "It's the worst I've seen in 22 years."

Children in local summer school programs are also being kept indoors.

At Scotten School and Hennessy School in Grass Valley, students "will play in the multipurpose room and classrooms," said Susan Clarabut, assistant superintendent at the Grass Valley School District.

"As a rule of thumb ... if you see smoke and smell smoke, you are most likely breathing unhealthy levels of particles," Fish said, in a media release today.

"In this case, we are looking at carbon particles which get right into your lungs, where they interfere with gas exchange on a molecular level," Fish said. "The particles physically clog air sacks in your lungs."

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

Staff Writer

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The Union Updated Jun 24, 2008 01:23PM Published Jun 24, 2008 01:23PM Copyright 2008 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.