Smoke from fires creating unhealthy conditions

The Kyburz Fire and other wildfires in the region are creating smoky conditions in some areas of El Dorado County, prompting the county Air Quality Management District and Health Services Department to issue an advisory.

Officials expect that El Dorado County may continue to be affected on an intermittent basis. Smoke conditions can vary a great deal in El Dorado County because of the terrain, wind direction and weather.

Fine particles in smoke can cause health issues, especially for children, older people or those with lung problems.

The following advise is applicable to people being affected by the Bison Fire in Douglas County, too.

Residents who see or smell smoke should consider taking precautions:

• Healthy people should delay strenuous exercise until the smoke has cleared.

• Children and older people should consider avoiding outdoor activity, especially prolonged outdoor exercise.

• People with health-related illnesses, particularly those with lung problems, should stay indoors.

• Windows and doors should stay closed as much as possible. Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home and car.

• Avoid using non-HEPA paper face mask filters that do not filter extra fine particles.

• Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water.

Wildfire smoke can cause coughing, watery and itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing. People with questionable or severe symptoms should seek medical advice. When there is smoke in the air, the smoke visibility index can help people assess the air quality based on visibility in their area.

To assess visibility:

• Face away from the sun. Determine visibility range by looking for targets that are at known distances (miles).

• The visibility range is the distance at which high-contrast objects disappear.

• After determining visibility in miles, use the following Wildfire Smoke Visibility Index to assess air quality.


Range (miles)







5 – 10


Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.

3 – 5

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

Sensitive people should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

1.5 – 3


Sensitive people should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

1 – 1.5

Very Unhealthy

Sensitive people should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.

< 1 miles


Sensitive people should remain indoors and keep activity levels low. Everyone else should avoid all physical activity outdoors.



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Comments (3)
  1. MTT says - Posted: July 10, 2013

    Why cant TRPA do something about this!! The smoke must be having an affect on Lake Clarity. I think they should confiscate and buldoze some South Shore homes to offset, the damage caused by the fire

  2. cosa pescado says - Posted: July 10, 2013

    Another great contribution from the far right.
    Please comment again when you can figure out how to use the word nazi inappropriately.

  3. Garry Bowen says - Posted: July 11, 2013

    Same response as that to “Wildfires Have Role in Global Warming”. . . as relevant information to ‘creating unhealthy conditions’. . .

    “Having reviewed a couple of immense fires with the upper reaches of Forest Service management (750,000 & 500,000+ acres, respectively), I overheard a talk by the then-Director of Public Health at Harvard talking about (beyond the always-recognized danger of the fires themselves to life, property, and habitat) how many other pollutants are released into the atmosphere: lots of toxicities from building materials, asphalt, etc. become part of the air stream, so there are lots of ‘residual’ effects above and beyond just “fire”. . .

    Most materials, natural or man-made, normally include much in the way of embedded energy that is ‘part & parcel’ to the “invention of fire” – which we humans never take into account, never realize.

    [To those two earliest commenters], I would also suggest they google (it is a verb now, right ?) Global Dimming – to further understand what sunlight has to do with [Dubey’s] contribution to this article. The most relevant part has to do with yet another “opportunity in our backyard” – namely, the first-ever closing of all the nations’ airports in the wake of 9/11; sunlight measurements that were never possible [due to the incredible number of flights criss-crossing the nation at any given time] were able to be done, revealing some frightening things about what is in the air and how it restricts the amount of sunlight actually hitting the ground now. . . (think crop productivity, or lack thereof) . . . people need to pay more attention, not less, to these types of inquiries. . .”

    “Add CO2 emissions to all of the above. . .”