Thursday Jun 26 2008
County cautions against outdoor activity
By: Cheri March, Lincoln News Messenger
Smoky conditions expected to last through Saturday
With a hazy cloud still blanketing Placer County from the valley to the foothills, county health officials on Thursday urged residents to cut short all outdoor activities. Fires burning from Big Sur to the Shasta region – where four Lincoln firefighters were recently dispatched – have kept Lincoln and its neighbors under smoky wraps since early this week. In Auburn, unhealthy air quality levels contributed to the first-ever cancellation of Saturday’s Western States Endurance Run. Fine particulate matter in Auburn measured at four times the federal standard of 35 micrograms per meter on Wednesday, according to the county health department. Conditions in Roseville were slightly less severe, at twice the federal standard. If blazes continue to burn and weather doesn’t improve, the smoky conditions are expected to continue through at least Saturday, officials said. The conditions have been linked to a variety of heath problems, particularly heart and lung disease, including asthma. But even healthy people can experience symptoms like eye and throat irrigation and coughing, officials said. Lincoln resident Lori Kidder said she and her family spent the last three days barricaded indoors with windows shut and air conditioner blasting, only venturing outside briefly for the Farmer’s Market in Historic Downtown Lincoln on Thursday evening. “I have a lump in my throat and the kids have been sneezing,” she said. “I told them all we have here is an hour, and then it’s back inside again.” Denise Gamboa, who was in town to visit her mother, said the smoke was worse than anything she’s seen at home in Flagstaff, Ariz. “My throat feels almost sore and I’ve been coughing a lot,” she said. “I can see how this could affect people with asthma.” But while Gamboa was ready to call it quits and head back in, Sheridan resident Jim Bradley said he wasn’t about to let the conditions dictate his plans. “I work outside anyway,” Bradley said. “It’s really not that bad.” Placer County officials said anyone experiencing severe symptoms due to the smoky conditions should seek medical help. Recommendations from Placer County’s health officer, Dr. Richard Burton, and air pollution control officer, Tom Christofk: -Healthy people should delay outdoor strenuous exercise -Children and elderly people should avoid outdoor activities, particularly prolonged outdoor exertion -People with specific illnesses – particularly respiratory problems – should remain indoors -Use of paper mask filters, which are not capable of filtering extra-fine smoke particles and which restrict airflow, is not recommended. -Stay inside with doors and windows shut, using the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car -Avoid cooking and vacuuming, which can increase pollutants indoors -Asthmatics should follow their asthma-management plans -Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue. This is important for not only people with chronic lung or heart disease, but also for individuals who have not been previously diagnosed with such illnesses. Smoke can "unmask" or produce symptom of such diseases. -Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water. Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness.