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RAW: Health advisory posted for Mammoth due to Aspen Fire smoke

July 29, 2013

Mono County's public health officer, Dr. Rick Johnson, along with the local air pollution control district, say the smoke in Mammoth reached air pollution levels as bad as in the days before wood-burning stoves were phased out in the early 1990's.

That's bad, as Johnson writes in a news release.

"As you undoubtedly know, smoke from the Aspen Fire on the western side of the Sierra continues to affect the air quality in Inyo and Mono County. Latest reports show the fire at 11,000 acres with projected growth of the fire and consequent smoke to continue for a prolonged period of time. Steep, inaccessible terrain, continued fuels, and drought conditions are hampering aggressive suppression tactics.

"This morning, the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (GBUAPCD) issued a Stage 1 Health Advisory for Mammoth Lakes and Southern Mono County, as hourly pollution levels exceeded the threshold for an alert for the first time. Over the last 12 hours, particulate pollution levels reported from monitoring equipment in Mammoth Lakes have been in the “unhealthy” range, while in Bishop and the Mono Lake area they have been in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range.

"Over the last 12 hours, particulate pollution levels reported from monitoring equipment in Mammoth Lakes have been in the “unhealthy” range, while in Bishop and the Mono Lake area they have been in the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” range.

"What does this mean for you?

"You can expect increased respiratory symptoms (e.g., watery and itchy eyes, congestion, sore throat, cough), and if you have any heart or lung disease, including asthma, are elderly, are very young, or are pregnant, you can expect worsening of your symptoms or condition. Local clinics are reporting an increase in all of the above in both visitors and residents.

"People with heart or lung disease (including asthma), the elderly, children, and pregnant women should AVOID prolonged or heavy exertion. The general public should limit prolonged or heavy exertion as much as possible.

"You should stay indoors, with windows and doors closed tightly. Turn the A/C onto re-circulate, or use ceiling or portable fans, but not anything that sucks outside air into the home.

"Avoid tobacco smoke, frying or broiling foods, burning candles, vacuuming, and using paints, solvents, cleaning products, and adhesives indoors.

"Keep a good supply of medication available, and have a supply of non-perishable groceries that do not require cooking.

"Keep your airways moist by drinking plenty of water. Masks will not work to filter out the small articles.

"If you have symptoms of lung or heart disease that may be related to excess smoke exposure, including repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness, CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER.

"Some additional considerations:

"If you are in a high-risk group and sensitive to the effects of smoke, with ongoing symptoms, you may want to consider along with your healthcare provider the option of leaving the area for a week or two, allowing your symptoms to improve while the smoke clears.

"Please remember to check on any of your friends, neighbors, or family that may be more vulnerable to the effects of smoke, and may need assistance in some way from someone like yourself who is blessed with more resources.

"If you think you may need assistance, don’t hesitate or be afraid to reach out to those who are available to help you. It’s always best to have your communication links established before you actually are in crisis and need help!

"The GBUAPCD and the Health Department will continue to monitor the air quality situation and provide updates to this advisory as needed.

For additional information, go to:

Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District:
http://www.gbuapcd.org/index.php

Incident Information System:
http://www.inciweb.org/0/, scroll to the “Aspen Fire”

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