For the next several days, Plumas County’s Air Quality will continue to vary as Fire Crews work to contain the Minerva Fire. It is important to remember that smoke can be damaging to your health. Exposure to elevated PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in smoke) concentrations can result in eye and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, congestion, coughing, impaired lung function and chest pain, especially among sensitive individuals such as the elderly, children, people with asthma, people with heart or lung conditions, pregnant women and anyone who is exercising or working hard outdoors.
If you smell or see smoke around you, the following actions are recommended:
- Minimize outdoor activities even if you are healthy;
- Stay indoors with doors and windows closed as much as possible; run the air conditioner on the
“recirculate” setting if that is an option;
- People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan;
- People with heart disease, respiratory or chronic health issues should stay indoors;
- Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe fatigue.
- ere is a simplified way to estimate air quality risk categories with a visibility assessment:
Visibility in Miles
11 miles and up
6 to 10
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
3 to 5
1 1⁄2 to 2 3⁄4
1 to 1 1⁄4
Less than 1 mile
When using the visibility index to determine smoke concentrations, it is important to:
• Face away from the sun.
• Determine the limit of your visibility range by looking for targets at known distances (miles). The visible range is the point at which even high-contrast objects (e.g., a forested mountain viewed against the sky at noon) totally disappear.
Smoke conditions can change quickly and vary greatly due to terrain, wind direction and weather. Western parts of Plumas and Sierra Counties, and especially the Quincy area, are likely to see the most smoke. It is important to monitor the smoke and make outdoor plans accordingly.
The use of filter masks is generally not recommended because the most effective masks can reduce air flow for people who are already having breathing difficulty.