The County Fire is one of several Northern California wildfires which could pose a risk for people who do not even live near the flames.
Wildfire smoke can make breathing difficult and cause eye irritation for anyone who works outdoors and for anyone under age 18 or over age 65. Those most at risk are people suffering with asthma, COPD and other lung diseases, chronic heart disease, or diabetes. "Whenever you see or smell smoke from a wildfire, you should try to stay indoors and limit outdoor activity as much as possible," Will Barrett with the American Lung Association in Sacramento. "The smoke that we're experiencing in the region from the (County Fire) is adding to our local air pollution health burdens." He says ozone and particle pollution have very serious impacts for people living with heart and lung disease up to and including death. "Not only can particles get deep into your lungs, but the smallest fine particles can get so deep into your lungs that they cross over into your bloodstream." He recommends not only do you avoid smoke exposure if you are suffering from any of those health concerns, but that you also see your doctor to determine if you need changes made to any related medications you are taking.
The American Lung Association does not recommend that you use a dust mask to protect your lungs, since they can not stop the fine particles floating in the smoke from being inhaled.
The weather will play a big part in how much impact the smoke has on your ability to breathe. Jim Mathews, National Weather Service forecaster in Sacramento, says during the early morning hours smoke will likely sink to the valley floor with cooler temperatures. That will make it more of a problem for people living in the valley, then it will rise as the temperature climbs and could be a problem for people in the foothills in the afternoon hours depending on the direction of the wind. The smoke can intensify the health concerns already related to smog in the Sacramento region.
The Sacramento Air Quality Management District continues to monitor conditions related to wildfires. Poor air quality due to the fires burning in Yolo and Napa counties has also prompted the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to issue a smoke advisory. Smoke from the fires has been seen as far south as Santa Cruz County and cars have been found covered in ash across the Bay Area.
The Sacramento Air Quality Management District provides a daily report on air quality which can be of help to those most at risk from the smoke. Air quality officials say conditions could improve tomorrow and Wednesday as winds will shift from a northerly direction to westerly winds that will likely push the smoke away from the region.