Wildfire Smoke - Info & Resources

The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (NCUAQMD) monitors smoke impacts from wildfires and works closely with the Public Health Departments of Humboldt, Del Norte, and Trinity Counties for public health notifications.

The NCUAQMD issues wildfire smoke air quality notifications as necessary as a joint message with Humboldt County, Hoopa Valley Tribe, Trinity County, Karuk Tribe, Del Norte County, and the Wiyot Tribe.

Public Service Announcements (PSA) provide general information regarding potential air quality impacts and alert the public. Typically, a PSA will indicate when certain areas are forecast to be in the "Moderate"to "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" range. Subsequent wildfire smoke announcements are issued as conditions change.

Air Quality Advisories may be issued when the air quality in certain areas is forecast' to be in the "Unhealthy" range.

Air Quality Alerts may be issued when the air quality in certain areas is forecast to be "Hazardous".
Here are the actions to protect yourself from wildfire smoke depending on the forecasted EPA Air Quality Index (AQI)range (24-hr avg):

  • "Good" - No actions required.
  • "Moderate" - Unusually sensitive individuals should consider limiting prolonged or heavy exertion.
  • "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG)" - People within Sensitive Groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion (Sensitive Groups are people with heart or lung disease, the elderly, children, and pregnant women).
  • "Unhealthy" - People within Sensitive Groups should avoid all physical outdoor activity (Sensitive Groups are people with heart or lung disease, the elderly, children, and pregnant women).
  • "Very Unhealthy" - Everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.
  • "Hazardous" - Everyone should avoid any outdoor activity.

The California Department of Education & the NCUAQMD have provided Air Quality Guidance and Recommended Activity Guides for Schools During Wildfires which provides recommendations for schools and others responsible for children during a wildfire smoke event. This provides health recommendations for schools, coaches, and event coordinators regarding student exposure to fine particles (smoke and dust) air pollution.

The District accesses air quality information (Particulate Matter - PM2.5) from both its existing regional air monitoring stations and portable PM2.5 air monitors (EBAMs) that have been deployed as appropriate by the District, the USFS, and CARB.

If you live in or plan to travel in an area that may be affected by wildfire smoke, check for alerts by calling 1-866-BURNDAY (1-866-287-6329).
What should you do if there is Wildfire Smoke in your area?
Concentrations of smoke may vary depending upon location, weather, and distance from the fire. Smoke from wildfires and structure fires contain harmful chemicals that can affect your health. Smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. People who are at greatest risk of experiencing symptoms due to smoke include: those with respiratory disease (such as asthma), those with heart disease, young children, and older adults. These sensitive populations should stay indoors and avoid prolonged activity. All others should limit prolonged or heavy activity and time spent outdoors. Even healthy adults can be affected by smoke.

Follow these general precautions to protect your health during a smoke event:
  • Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise
  • Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible
  • Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside – examples include swamp coolers, whole-house fans, and fresh air ventilation systems
  • Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors. Change the standard air conditioner filter to a medium or high efficiency filter. If available, use the “re-circulate” or “recycle” setting on the unit
  • Do not smoke, fry food, or do other things that will create indoor air pollution
If you have lung disease (including asthma) or heart disease, closely monitor your health and follow your medical plan closely. If you live in an area prone to wildfires, make sure to include a plan for smoke exposure in your medical plan. Consider leaving the area until smoke conditions improve if you have repeated coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue, lightheadedness.
What should you do to prepare for Wildfire Season?
If you have health concerns, are elderly, pregnant, or have a child in your care, talk with your doctor now about what to do if the air becomes smoky.
If you are in a wildfire prone area, consider buying an air purifier to use in the event of smoky air. Some air cleaners can help reduce indoor pollutants if they are the right type and size for your home. Air cleaners with ozone generators are NOT appropriate for home use, and the Air Resources Board recommends avoiding them as ozone is a gas that can cause health problems including lung irritation and breathing difficulty.
Informative Links:
  • Wildfire Smoke - Air Quality / AQI
  • Wildfire Smoke - Satellite Info & Smoke Modeling

    Informative Documents:
  • NCUAQMD AQ Guidance & Activity Guides for Schools
  • Preparing for Wildfire Season (NCUAQMD)
  • Living with Wildfire (NW CA Publication)
  • How to reduce your Smoke Exposure (EPA)
  • Protecting Your Family from Wildfire Smoke (NCUAQMD)
  • Using Masks-Respirators for Wildfire Smoke (EPA)
  • N95 Mask Commonly Asked Questions (Cal/OSHA)
  • Protecting children from Wildfire Smoke & Ash (EPA)
  • Protect your lungs from Wildfire Smoke & Ash (EPA)
  • Protect yourself from Ash (EPA)
  • How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health (EPA)
  • Protect Your Pets from Wildfire Smoke (EPA)
  • Protect Your Large Animals & Livestock from Wildfire Smoke (EPA)
  • Indoor Air Filtration (EPA)
  • Prepare For Fire Season (EPA)
  • Ready For Wildfire (CALFIRE)
  • Helpful Tips During Wildfires (American Lung Assoc)
  • Wildfire Smoke - A Guide for Public Health Officials (CARB/CDPH) - Rev 2019
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    Monday September 16th

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