Air quality worsens, public urged to limit outdoor activities

Air quality worsens, public urged to limit outdoor activities

Credit: KTVB

Air quality worsens, public urged to limit outdoor activities




Posted on September 21, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 21 at 11:19 PM

BOISE – Health officials are warning Idahoans to reduce or postpone their outdoors activities this weekend due to all the smoke in the air.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has issued an orange air quality alert for Ada and Canyon counties on Saturday. Smoke from wildfires continues to fill the air, making it unhealthy for sensitive groups.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 135. Officials say when the AQI is between 101 and 150, members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. People with lung disease, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors are the groups most at risk.

Most communities in southern Idaho are experiencing poor air quality, and conditions are not expected to improve through the weekend.

“It’s getting more difficult to escape areas with poor air quality because it’s so widespread, so it’s important to be aware and adjust your level of exertion if you’re outdoors this weekend,” said Jim Vannoy, health program manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Older adults, infants, children and people with medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease are more affected. People who use inhalers for asthma or other conditions should keep them nearby. 

The 20th St. Luke's Women's Fitness Celebration run, walk and stroll will bring thousands of women to downtown Boise Saturday morning.

This year's 5-K will start at Capitol and Bannock - just south of the Statehouse - then proceed up Capitol Boulevard to the depot, and finish at Ann Morrison Park.

With fire smoke and concerns about air quality in the news, we asked about how you should approach the celebration if you want to go.

"I think people need to do what they need to do to stay healthy," said Judy Jones with St. Luke's Women's Service. "I have some folks that wear respiratory masks in the particular air quality, and if their condition would be aggravated by being out in the environment, they just need to be safe."

The run, walk and stroll begins at 8:50 a.m.

To reduce exposure to smoke to protect people’s health, public health officials advise:

•    Everyone should avoid heavy work or exercise outdoors when the air quality index reaches unhealthy levels.
•    Older adults, small children, and those with respiratory conditions or heart disease may be more sensitive to poor air quality and should stay indoors and avoid heavy work when air quality reaches unhealthy levels.
•    Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps dilute phlegm in the respiratory tract, making it easier to cough out smoke particles. Plan to cough; it is nature’s way of clearing your lungs. Avoid caffeine products, sugary drinks and alcohol because they have a dehydrating effect.
•    Stay cool if the weather is warm. Run your air conditioner to re-circulate air. Turn the fan blower to manual so it continuously filters the air in your home.
•    For homes without a central heating and/or cooling system, use portable air purifiers to remove particles (air purifiers that utilize HEPA filters are best; avoid using air purifiers that produce ozone). Visit places in your community that have air conditioning, such as a library.
•    If you wear contact lenses, switch to eyeglasses in a smoky environment.

All open outdoor burning is prohibited in Ada and County counties by local ordinance.

Today's air quality index and burning ordinance information can been viewed on the Department of Environmental Quality's website at air quality forecasts