Wildfires and Air Quality

District Wildfire News and Advisories

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information related to wildfire smoke and how to protect yourself:  https://www.cdc.gov/air/wildfire-smoke/default.htm

Be prepared for wildfire smoke and create spaces in your home that can filter out smoke particulates. For more information, see this Joint Press Release issued by the Butte County Department of Public Health and our District.

Fire and Smoke Information
Current Cal-Fire Incidents
Current Federal Incidents
California Smoke Blog
AirNow Fire and Smoke Mapping (now includes Purple Air sensor data!)
AlertWildfire Webcam Network
Purple Air Sensor Map (Unofficial Air Sensor Data): Note: The District is operating a Purple Air sensor in Biggs, Nord, Oroville, Palermo, Chico, Thermalito, Paradise, Magalia, Forest Ranch, Cohasset, Berry Creek, Butte Meadows, Richvale, and Durham. Data is unofficial and for informational use only. It is suggested to use the “US EPA” conversion in the bottom left for better accuracy.
EPA’s Smoke Sense App

The major air pollutant of concern during wildfire impacts is fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5. While all persons may experience varying degrees of symptoms, the more sensitive individuals, such as the young, the elderly, pregnant women, smokers, and those with respiratory conditions are of greatest risk at experiencing more aggravated symptoms. These symptoms  may include, but are not limited to coughing, watery and itchy eyes, and difficulty in breathing.

Persons experiencing questionable or severe symptoms during smoky conditions should seek professional medical advice and treatment. The following actions are recommended as needed when wildfire smoke impacts your location:

• Limit your outdoor activities, especially children and people with chronic heart and lung diseases.
• Avoid the use of non-HEPA paper face mask filters and bandannas which are not capable of filtering extra fine particulates (more information). The use of the N-95 mask is helpful in reducing exposure to smoke in the air, however, people with respiratory conditions should not rely on the mask for full protection against harmful particulate matter. If you have a chronic respiratory condition or generally sensitivity, we still recommend limiting your time outdoors, using air conditioning in your home and car and ensuring that your home air filter is clean;
• Check or replace air conditioner filters. Higher MERV-rated filters are recommended (MERV-13 or higher). Run air-conditioners on the “re-circulate” setting, if available. A small percentage of newer homes have ventilation systems that actively bring in outdoor air. These should be turned off or set to a “re-circulate” mode. Do not run swamp coolers or whole house fans;
• If you need to drive through smoke, make sure your windows are closed and run your air conditioner on the re-circulate setting.
• If you do not have air conditioning and it is too hot to remain indoors during unhealthy conditions, consider temporarily relocating to an alternative location;
• Reduce sources of indoor air pollution.
• Avoid breathing in accumulated or airborne ash. Also avoid skin contact with accumulated ash, especially children and pets.
• If you are having trouble breathing, seek medical assistance or call your primary care provider.

Additional Resources:

Butte County Public Health Wildfire Smoke Page

Butte County Air Quality Activity Recommendations for Butte County Schools

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has additional information on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.

EPA Smoke-Ready Toolbox with various fact sheets on protecting yourself, children, and pets from wildfire smoke.

The Wildfire Smoke Guide, created for public health officials, has many helpful precautionary measures to help minimize the effects of smoke impacts from wildfires.

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