Authorities offer tips for dealing with poor air quality

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(KMVT/KSVT) - With a blanket of wildfire smoke covering the state, you definitely want to limit exposure to the outdoor air.

"The smoke from wildfires is a mixture of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide and particulate matter (pm) along with other organic chemicals and trace minerals," explained Heather Kimmel, the executive director of the Idaho American Lung Association. "Pm 2.5 is what we're most concerned with from the wildfire smoke. The reason being these particles are tiny. They're actually small enough that when people breathe them in, they don't get coughed out like larger particles do and they can become lodged in the lungs, stay there, and they're often small enough to be absorbed in the blood stream and stay in the body."

When inside, make sure you keep the windows, doors, and fireplace shut.

If you run the air conditioning, recirculating the indoor air would be the better option.

"If not an option, then keeping the house closed and using an air cleaner like a HEPA filter," said Kimmel.

For those without air conditioning, the fan you use may be something you want to avoid.

"If smoke get in and get on to the floor or onto the furniture, that ceiling fan is of course going to pick it back up and allow you to breathe it over and over again," explained Craig Paul, the Environmental Health program manager at the South Central Public Health.

When it comes to chores or traveling, Paul said, "Anything that uses an internal combustion is just going to add to that amount of smoke."

Officials recommend avoiding dry dusting, running vacuum cleaners, and letting your car idle.

If you decide to wear a mask, your typical dust or surgical mask won't do.

"They don't protect lungs from fine particles like you see in wildfire smoke. Similarly, scarves and bandanas don't help," added Kimmel.

Particulate masks called Nā€“95 would be your better option if it fits well and used correctly, but doesn't help those suffering from respiratory issues.

"If you don't have those options if you can spend some time at your work or at a library or public library ā€” public building that has AC available tat s a good thing as well," said Paul.

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), expects unhealthy levels to persist through the end of the week. Quality shall slightly improve by the weekend.

Kimmel told KMVT once the air clears, it's important to open the windows to allow in some fresh air to circulate.

For those with lung problems, waiting for the air quality level in the green would be ideal.

For those without lung problems, Kimmel said," Even if the air quality is borderline in that green to yellow range, it's still probably good to open the house up a little bit for a few minutes."



 
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