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Wildfire Smoke Impacting SLO County Air Quality

7/7/2017

The San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Air Pollution Control District and County Health Department informs individuals that air quality in San Luis Obispo County is being impacted by smoke from the Alamo wildfire. The fire is located in Southern San Luis Obispo County near Twitchell Reservoir and Highway 166. Skies are hazy and fine particulate (PM2.5) concentrations are higher than normal in Nipomo and Southern San Luis Obispo County due to transported smoke from the fire. Changing winds and fire conditions make it difficult to predict which areas of the county may be most affected this weekend. Thus, until the fire is put out, smoke will likely be intermittently present in our region.

If you smell smoke or see ash fall, County officials recommend you take precautions and use common sense to reduce the harmful health effects associated with smoke exposure. When smoke in the air is obvious, individuals should avoid strenuous outdoor activity and remain indoors as much as possible. These precautions are particularly important for people with existing respiratory illness and heart conditions and for the very young and the elderly as they are most vulnerable to the health effects of declining air quality.

Levels of particulates in the smoke may be high enough in some areas that even healthy people could be affected. If a cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, exhaustion, light-headedness, or chest pain occurs, outdoor activity should be stopped immediately and the affected person should seek medical attention.
To clean ash, please do the following: use a damp cloth and spray areas lightly with water, directing ash-filled water to ground areas, and away from the runoff system - do not use leaf blowers; take your vehicle to the car wash; wash toys that have been outside in the ash; and clean ash off pets. Due to its corrosive nature, avoid skin contact with the ash by wearing gloves and long-sleeved shirts. Please note, if you have existing heart or lung conditions, avoid doing ash clean-up yourself or anything else that stirs the particles back up into the air. In addition, do not allow children to play in the ash.

APCD and County officials will continue to closely monitor smoke impacts and air quality in San Luis Obispo County. By following the air quality index (AQI), the public can also monitor real-time air quality throughout SLO County. The AQI focuses on health effects individuals may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.