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Air Quality Health Advisory for October 11-13, 2017

 Air Quality Health Advisory

For Wednesday October 11 to Friday October 13, 2017

Nicole Quick, MD, MPH, the Public Health Officer for Yuba County, and the Feather River Air Quality Management District are issuing a joint air quality health advisory to notify the public of potentially poor air quality conditions through Friday October 13 caused from smoke from several wildfires burning in Northern California.

The current Air Quality Index levels are in the moderate to unhealthy range in the Yuba Sutter area.  The winds have shifted northerly and increased on Wednesday, which may bring relief to some impacted areas while also increasing fire danger. Residents should stay alert and expect rapidly changing conditions over the next few days.

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Smoke density can vary widely from one local area to another and also with time of day.  “Air quality conditions depend on a number of factors, which include proximity to the fire, wind speed and direction, and whether inversions are present,” warns Christopher D. Brown, Air Pollution Control Officer.  Based on information available at this time, the FRAQMD expects intermittent smoke impacts until Friday October 13. 

You can check current conditions online at  Residents can also sign up for air quality forecasts and alerts at

Residents who see or smell smoke should consider these precautionary measures:

·        Healthy people should delay strenuous exercise, particularly when they can smell smoke.

·        Children and elderly people should consider avoiding outdoor activities, particularly prolonged outdoor exertion. Parents of children involved in youth sports programs should consider whether their children be allowed to participate when smoke is in the air.

·        People with health-related illnesses, particularly respiratory problems, should remain indoors.

·        Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.  Use the recycle or recirculate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.

·        Avoid the use of non-HEPA paper face mask filters which are not capable of filtering extra fine particles.  Do not rely on HEPA face mask filters to do unnecessary outdoor activities.

·        Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water.  Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness, but does not filter out the hazardous smoke particles.

·         Avoid the fire areas.


Wildfire smoke may contain particulate matter, ozone, carbon monoxide, and toxic air contaminants.  While all persons may experience varying degrees of symptoms, more sensitive individuals, such as the young, aged and those with respiratory conditions are at greatest risk of experiencing more aggravated symptoms.  Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, coughing, watery and itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing.  Persons experiencing questionable or severe symptoms should seek professional medical advice and treatment.

The ash deposited by forest fires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. However, any ash will contain small amounts of cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, fire ash may be irritating to the skin, especially to those with sensitive skin. If the ash is breathed, it can be irritating to the nose and throat and may cause coughing. Exposure to ash in air might trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have asthma.

Ash and debris inside burned structures may contain more toxic substances than forest fire ash because of the many synthetic and other materials present in buildings. Older buildings in particular may contain asbestos and lead.



County officials will continue to monitor air quality in Sutter and Yuba County and provide updates on this advisory as needed.  For current information, or to sign up for air quality alerts and forecasts, go to the Feather River Air Quality Management District at or check the Yuba County Public Health Facebook pages or Yuba County website.