Air Quality Warning Continues

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(Thursday morning from Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens / Frederique Lavoipierre)

Update by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
December 12, 2017

Monitoring stations continue to record unhealthy air in Santa Barbara County, with levels of fine particles (PM 2.5) still high. Larger particles (PM 10) and smoke aloft in the air will make air quality conditions appear worse and lead to poor visibility in some areas of the county. Those larger particles are less harmful to health than the smaller, fine particles, which are invisible. The larger particles can break down into smaller particles over time, so everyone should continue to take precautions.

The Air Quality Warning will remain in effect until conditions improve. To view the smoke forecast and current conditions, see https://www.ourair.org/todays-air-quality/. Updated forecasts will be posted there. Please assume the Santa Barbara air quality indices for particles (PM 10 and PM 2.5) applies to Carpinteria as well. Air quality conditions may be worse close to the fire


Update by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
December 10, 2017

Unhealthy Air in Santa Barbara County; Air Quality Warning Continues

Monitoring stations continue to record unhealthy air in Santa Barbara County, with levels of fine particles high and levels of larger particles, including ash particles, rising. Forecasts show that smoke and ash will continue to affect the southern part of Santa Barbara County for the next several days, and the Santa Ynez Valley and the northern parts of the County will see increasing impacts. The Air Quality Warning will remain in effect until conditions improve, which will depend on winds, and the control of the Thomas Fire. To view the smoke forecast and current conditions, see https://www.ourair.org/todays-air-quality/. Updated forecasts will be posted there. Please assume the Santa Barbara air quality index applies to Carpinteria as well. Air quality conditions may be worse close to the fire.

We recommend that everyone:

  • Stay indoors, with windows closed and indoor circulation only. Air conditioning is also an option if the outside intake is closed. Avoid going outdoors. Particles can build up indoors, so if you are feeling symptoms where you are, be prepared to relocate to an indoor location with better ventilation, or to leave the area.
  • Avoid driving when possible and use “recycle” or re-circulate mode to avoid drawing smoky air into the car.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep respiratory membranes moist.
  • For people who have to be outdoors for short periods of time, N95 masks, when fitted properly, offer some protection from fine particles in smoke. For updated lists of distribution sites, visit http://countyofsb.org/thomasfire.sbc#update.

 

If you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke and soot, contact your doctor. Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, head aches, and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.It is especially important for children, and for people with lung and heart conditions to stay indoors. Consider leaving the area while the air quality is poor. If able, relocate to an area not impacted by smoke. We do not advise ash clean-up at this time as ash is still falling and the situation is unpredicatble.

If cleaning up ash, remember the following.

  • Avoid cleaning up ash until conditions improve and it's safe to be outdoors. No one with heart or lung conditions should handle ash clean-up. Avoid any skin contact with ash.
  • Avoid doing any activities that will stir up ash, such as using leafblowers.
  • If you need to clean up ash, use damp cloths and spray areas lightly with water.
  • Use vacuums with HEPA filters, and sweep gently with a broom.
  • Take your car to the car wash
  • Wash off toys that have been outside in the ash; clean ash off pets
  • Use a high-quality shop/industrial vacuum outfitted with a high-efficiency particulate filter and a disposable collection filter bag. Ash can be bagged and put into trash cans, so it will not be stirred up again into the air. Special attachments can be used to clean ash from gutters, so that it will not blow back over outdoor spaces. Attachments and disposable bags are available from most hardware stores.

 

See https://www.ourair.org/smoke-health/ for ways to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.


Update by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
December 8, 2017

Air Quality Warning Remains in Effect Through Weekend - Continued Smoke Impacts for Santa Barbara County

We recommend that everyone: The air quality index continues to show unhealthy air quality in Santa Barbara County. Smoke and ash from the Thomas Fire may continue to affect local air quality for days. Levels of smoke and particles, and areas of the county affected, will vary and conditions could change quickly. Smoke plumes may be visible and may or may not have an additional effect on ground-level air quality. The Air Quality Warning will remain in effect until conditions improve.

  • Check www.OurAir.org/todays-air-quality/for current conditions. The chart will indicate when air quality is good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy for all, very unhealthy, or hazardous. 
  • Stay indoors, with windows closed and indoor circulation only. Air conditioning is also an option if the outside intake is closed. Particles can build up indoors, so if you are feeling symptoms where you are, be prepared to relocate to an indoor location with better ventilation, or to leave the area.
  • Avoid driving when possible and use “recycle” or re-circulate mode to avoid drawing smoky air into the car.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep respiratory membranes moist.
  • Avoid doing anything to stir up ash.

If you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke and soot, contact your doctor. Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.

N95 masks, when fitted properly, offer some limited protection from fine particles in smoke; they do not filter out all of the harmful gases. N95 masks do not come in sizes suitable for small children. Dust masks and surgical masks are not effective.

See https://www.ourair.org/smoke-health/ for more information on how to protect your health.


Update by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
December 7, 2017

WHAT ARE THE AIR QUALITY INDEX LEVELS AND WHAT DO THEY MEAN TO YOUR HEALTH?

According to Dr. Charity Dean, Health Officer at the Santa Barbara Public Health Department the air quality index shows unhealthy air quality in Santa Barbara County and air quality continues to worsen. Santa Barbara’s air monitoring station has recorded “hazardous” levels, the Goleta station has recorded “very unhealthy” levels and the Lompoc station has recorded “unhealthy” levels. With the Thomas Fire continuing to burn it is anticipated the county will have continued concerns about air quality over the course of the next week throughout the county.

Based on reports from the Air Pollution Control District and in consultation with Dr. Dean, the following is the current status (12 noon) of the general air quality and corresponding recommendations.

Location General Air Quality
Santa Barbara Hazardous
Santa Maria Good
Lompoc H St Unhealthy
Goleta Very Unhealthy
El Capitan Moderate
Las Flores Canyon Moderate
VAFB Moderate
Carpinteria Hazardous
Santa Ynez Good

Please note that an excellent source for up-to-date air quality is https://www.ourair.org/todays-air-quality/

The Air Quality Index is an objective measurement of ozone (smog), particulate matter 10 microns and smaller (wildfires), and particulate matter 2.5 microns and smaller (wildfires).

The following report from the Air Pollution Control District is updated regularly and available on their website: https://www.ourair.org/todays-air-quality/. This chart is from 12/7/2017 at 0900.

The higher the number, the more air pollution we are breathing. An AQI of 100 corresponds to the federal health standard for that pollutant. The AQI numbers and corresponding ratings are shown for the current hour, and are updated hourly.

“Hazardous”

  • This is the most severe air quality rating and is an emergency condition. Even healthy individuals are likely to experience symptoms, and they could be severe and require medical attention.
  • Fine particulate matter (less than 10 microns in diameter) can penetrate deep into the lungs making oxygen exchange difficult, damaging the lungs, and leading to more serious heart and lung effects for all individuals. This is true for both short term and long term exposure.
  • All individuals should avoid outdoor activity o If outdoor activity is necessary, consider wearing an N95 mask. This filters particulate matter. However, the N95 mask can also feel “smothering” and actually make it harder to breathe, so the decision not to wear one is reasonable.

o Recommend individuals follow their own preference on wearing N95 mask if they must work outdoors

  • Those with underlying health conditions should leave the area
  • Anticipate high utilization of emergency rooms and clinics for acute asthma exacerbations, heart attacks, heart palpitations, COPD exacerbations, and other health events. Anticipate elevated number of individuals admitted to the hospital for acute treatment.

“Very Unhealthy”

  • Healthy individuals may experience symptoms such as o Shortness of breath, coughing

o Irritation to the nose, throat, lungs

o Fatigue

o Heart palpitations

  • Those with underlying health conditions should leave the area if they are able. If they experience health effects, they are more likely to be severe and require medical attention.

“Unhealthy”

  • Healthy individuals may begin to experience health effects
  • Those with underlying conditions are more likely to experience health effects, and they are more likely to be serious and require medication or seeing a provider. It would be reasonable for them to consider leaving the area. If they stay, they should avoid outdoor activity or strenuous activity.

“Moderate”

  • Air quality is considered acceptable
  • Healthy individuals unlikely to experience health effects
  • A small number of individuals with underlying conditions may experience health effects (acute exacerbation)

“Good”

  • Safe for all individuals

For more information please contact the PHD at 805-896-1057


Update by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
December 7, 2017

The air quality index shows unhealthy air quality in Santa Barbara County and air quality continues to worsen. Santa Barbara air monitoring station has recorded “hazardous” levels, the Goleta station has recorded “very unhealthy” levels and the Lompoc station has recorded “unhealthy” levels. With the Thomas Fire continuing to burn we anticipate continued concerns about air quality. N95 masks, when fitted properly, offer some limited protection from fine particles in smoke. Dust masks and surgical masks are not effective.

We recommend that everyone:

  • Stay indoors, with windows closed and indoor circulation only. Air conditioning is also an option if the outside intake is closed. Avoid going outdoors. Particles can build up indoors, so if you are feeling symptoms where you are be prepared to relocate to an indoor location with better ventilation, or to leave the area.
  • Avoid driving when possible and use “recycle” or re-circulate mode to avoid drawing smoky air into the car.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep respiratory membranes moist.
  • Avoid doing anything to stir up ash.

It is especially important for people with lung and heart conditions to stay indoors, and to consider leaving the area while the air quality index is “very unhealthy.” If able, relocate to an area not impacted by smoke.

For individuals who have to be outdoors for short periods of time:

  • The cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria will be distributing N 95 masks to individuals who need them. A maximum of two per person will be provided. Please monitor the news from local cities about distribution sites in your area.
  • There are not enough masks to provide one for everyone in the South County. These masks are best for those with sensitivities who have to be outdoors for short periods of time. These masks do not filter out all of the harmful gases. They must also fit properly to be effective.
  • Carefully read and follow the proper instructions to create a fitted seal around the nose and mouth.
  • N95 masks do not come in sizes suitable for small children. All children, and especially those with asthma or other chronic health conditions, should avoid outdoor activity that would expose them to breathing in smoky air for extended periods of time.
  • People who use inhalers for asthma or other conditions should make sure they have access to their inhaler, and refill prescriptions if necessary.
  • People who have respiratory conditions should talk with their doctors about use of masks, as they reduce airflow.
  • Masks do not fit properly on children, so keeping children out of smoke-impacted areas is advised.

 

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District today emphasized that the Air Quality Warning for Santa Barbara County remains in effect until conditions improve. Smoke and ash from the Thomas Fire burning in Ventura County may continue to affect local air quality for days. Levels of smoke and particles, and areas impacted, including potentially other areas of the county, will vary, and conditions could change quickly.

Check www.OurAir.org/todays-air-quality/ for current conditions. The chart will indicate when air quality is good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy for all, very unhealthy, and hazardous. For more information, also see https://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=smoke.index


Source: Santa Barbara County Public Health Department
December 6, 2017

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District today noted that air monitoring stations in Goleta and Santa Barbara recorded levels that were unhealthy for all to breathe yesterday. Smoke and ash from the Thomas Fire burning in Ventura County may continue to affect local air quality for days. Levels of smoke and particles, and areas impacted, including potentially other areas of the county, will vary, and conditions could change quickly. The agencies emphasized that the Air Quality Warning for Santa Barbara County remains in effect until conditions improve.

·        Check www.OurAir.org/todays-air-quality/ for current conditions. The chart will indicate when air quality is good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, and unhealthy for all. 

·        Avoid exercise outdoors, or scheduling school sports practices or exercise periods outdoors when air quality is impacted.

If you see or smell smoke in the air, be cautious and use common sense to protect your and your family’s health. Everyone, especially people with heart or lung disease (including asthma), older adults, and children, should limit time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise when high concentrations of smoke and particles are in the air.

If you have symptoms that may be related to exposure to smoke and soot, contact your health care provider. Symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, and nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness.

When wildfire smoke is impacting your neighborhood, consider purchasing an air-filtering device, which can help remove ash, soot, and dust.

·        Select a device with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter.

·        Keep the device in one room that could serve as a “clean air room” — the packaging on most devices notes the suitable room size.

Keep windows closed and avoid using your fireplace. If you are sensitive to air pollution, and air quality is poor in your area to the extent that you are unable to keep indoor air clean, consider relocating to an area where the air is cleaner.

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9 Comments

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Roger Dec 07, 2017 04:58 PM
Air Quality Warning Continues

Thank You for all you do John I have heard at least a dozen difficulty breathing calls today even if you don't have breathing problems get a mask even a crappy one will help.

John Wiley Dec 07, 2017 01:10 PM
Air Quality Warning Continues

Between all the local sources like our beloved Edhat, I'm happy to see everyone getting access to the latest info. Thanks to Roger, I was quickly able to confirm that the flare up in Cat Canyon is unlikely to be an issue. As for wind, the forecast I'm watching is the aviation winds aloft. Calm or slow surface winds reported elsewhere don't take into account the fact that embers lofted up into those winds by the heat of a flare up can be carried some distance. On the visible satellites you can get a sense of how far our smoke is going on those winds right now, and it's a long ways. Thanks to everyone who's posting.

Sundance Dec 07, 2017 11:36 AM
Air Quality Warning Continues

There isn’t any wind forecasted for SB county. It’s only Ventura County

a-1513505203 Dec 06, 2017 05:34 PM
Air Quality Warning Continues

Thank you, John, for this information. You've proven to be golden with your help in previous fires. Your track record speaks for itself.

a-1513505203 Dec 06, 2017 03:41 PM
Air Quality Warning Continues

Mr. Wiley, while I do appreciate the update/possibility, I truly hope you are being as accurate as possible b/c there is no need to induce panic. Unfortunately I am in teh middle of a move so preparing to evacuate would be hell for me as most of my stuff is boxed up.

a-1513505203 Dec 07, 2017 04:56 PM
Air Quality Warning Continues

Goodness gracious when a friendly heads up is met with panic and hysteria you know the world is off kilter. No one said you had to evacuate so finish your move. But if you do you have to evacuate you're lucky as all your stuff is already in boxes. Cheer up, you're living a great adventure.

John Wiley Dec 06, 2017 03:07 PM
Air Quality Warning Continues

Alert: In the aviation wind forecast I'm seeing potential for rapid fire spread into our mountains tonight. I've started a topic about it on SBitZ.NET and will start posting details there soon. Just wanted to alert the Edhat community to be prepared tonight into tomorrow.

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