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Smoke could stick around

The worst recorded air quality in 15 years has Nevada County residents staying indoors, and the pall from numerous wildfires is expected to continue at least through today.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento gave a forecast of hope late Thursday with the possibility of winds shifting and pushing smoke out of the foothills this evening.

But with so much smoke in Northern California, pockets are expected to move from region to region and bring uncertainty, the weather service said. Possible thunderstorms in the Sierra with more dry lightning could add to the fire and smoke problem Saturday.



Residents are urged to avoid outdoor activity again today as the air alert for Nevada County from the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District in Grass Valley is expected to continue.

Ozone levels from Wednesday night to Thursday morning hit levels bordering on very unhealthy, and particulates from Northern California fires caused the air quality index to hit the hazardous range, according to Joe Fish of the air district.




“The numbers are so high, our machines are having trouble keeping up,” Fish said Thursday. “The filters are clogging up with the particulates.

“I don’t see things clearing up, and they’re talking about more lightning strikes over the weekend,” Fish said. “There won’t be any let-up” if the stretched-thin fire crews can’t get to them.

Overexposure to bad air can cause the headaches, nasal and throat irritation and loss of sleep that healthy people are already feeling all over the county, according to the air district’s alert.

People with existing lung and heart ailments can end up in a hospital if they expose themselves too much to current conditions.

The cumulative impacts of the smoky conditions that started Monday will probably start showing up in people at risk, Fish said.

The conditions caused the Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency to call at-risk county residents in the Washington area and others who use county services and oxygen.

“Everyone had plenty of oxygen and was safe,” said Dr. Joseph Iser, the county’s Public Health Officer and Director of Public Health. “We might call the same people Monday.

“The local hospitals (in Truckee and Grass Valley) are getting a lot of calls but few visits,” Iser said. “People with respiratory illness know to stay indoors.”

Local medical equipment suppliers who provide oxygen all report sufficient supplies, the county health agency reported.

It cautioned, however, that oxygen can only be received with a valid prescription. Masks are also available at local pharmacies and hardware stores.

Fish said the air alert may continue even longer as the blazes continue. Earlier this week, Fish said if you can see or smell smoke, it’s probably a good idea to stay inside, particularly those with existing heart or lung conditions.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

For on information on how to minimize your exposure to the high levels of smoke and ash, call the County Public Health Department at 265-1450.

High air pollution levels can cause immediate health problems:

n Aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illness

n Added stress to heart and lungs, which must work harder to supply the body with oxygen

n Damaged cells in the respiratory system

n Long-term exposure to polluted air can have permanent health effects:

n Accelerated aging of the lungs

n Loss of lung capacity

n Decreased lung function

n Development of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly

cancer

n Shortened life span

Source: http://www.sparetheair.com


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