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Old 06-18-2008, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Morehead City, NC
1,681 posts, read 5,671,526 times
Reputation: 1263

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AIR QUALITY OFFICIALS ISSUE HEALTH NOTICE FOR COASTAL AREAS
From the NC Environmental and Health
Division of Air Quality
AIR QUALITY OFFICIALS ISSUE HEALTH NOTICE FOR COASTAL AREAS

RALEIGH - Air quality officials issued an advisory today for air pollution in coastal regions of North Carolina on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday as smoke from wildfires continues to drift downwind. Residents of coastal communities east of U.S. Highway 17 from Morehead City to Virginia could experience unhealthy to very unhealthy air quality depending on wind directions.

Wildfires at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and the Dismal Swamp of Southeastern Virginia are blanketing many coastal communities with heavy smoke that could contain high levels of particle pollution. Air quality monitors have measured very unhealthy air pollution levels in areas downwind of the fires.

Forecasters have predicted Code Red or Purple conditions - or Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy -- on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday in the following counties: Camden, Carteret, Currituck, Dare, Hyde, Pasquotank and Tyrrell. The forecast means people who are sensitive to air pollution should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Sensitive groups include older adults and children; people with heart conditions and respiratory ailments such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema; and people who work or exercise outdoors. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

In addition, residents could experience Code Orange conditions - or Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups - in a number of other coastal counties, including: Beaufort, Chowan, Craven, Gates, Pamlico, Perquimans and Washington. Sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. Outdoor burning is prohibited on Code Orange, Red or Purple days.

Air pollution levels that people experience will depend on wind directions that can be difficult to forecast. So all residents of coastal regions north of Morehead City should be aware of weather conditions and be prepared for smoke and poor air quality.

The primary pollutant of concern is fine particles, which include microscopic solids and liquid droplets in the air. Particles can be harmful to breathe and contribute to haze and other air quality problems. Air monitors in Washington and Belhaven have recorded peak hourly particle levels ranging from 1,100 to 2,150 micrograms per cubic meter - or from 30 to 60 times the 24-hour standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

Fine particles can penetrate deeply into the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream, causing or aggravating heart and lung diseases. Persons most susceptible to particle pollution include those with heart and respiratory conditions, the elderly and young children. Symptoms of exposure to high particle levels include: irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; coughing; phlegm; chest pain or tightness; shortness of breath; and asthma attacks. In extreme cases, particle pollution can cause heart attacks and premature death.

A wide range of sources contribute to particle pollution, including power plants and other industry, cars and trucks, wood stoves and outdoor fires. Smoke from the large wildfire in Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties is the primary cause for high particle levels that have blanketed parts of the state for the past two weeks.

The N.C. Division of Air Quality (DAQ) issues daily air forecasts for the Triangle, Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory, Fayetteville and Rocky Mount metropolitan areas. In the Triad, forecasts are issued by the Forsyth County Environmental Affairs Department. For additional information, call 1-888-RU4NCAIR (1-888-784-6224) or visit the DAQ web site at N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) : Division of Air Quality or Forsyth County's web site at, Forsyth County > Environmental Affairs (http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/EnvAffairs/ - broken link)

AIR QUALITY OFFICIALS ISSUE GUIDELINES FOR ASSESSING SMOKE RISK

RALEIGH - As wildfires in Eastern North Carolina could continue burning for weeks, air quality officials today issued guidelines for citizens to use in gauging local air pollution due to smoke.

The state Division of Air Quality (DAQ) has been issuing daily air forecasts with its best estimates of air quality conditions related to the fires, but those forecasts are dependent on local conditions, variable winds and weather patterns that can change on short notice.

"Citizens throughout Eastern North Carolina could encounter heavy smoke and air pollution if they are downwind from the fires," DAQ Director Keith Overcash said. "If citizens observe thick haze and strong smoky odors in their area, they should take precautions to limit their exposure."

Wildfires at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and the Dismal Swamp of Southeastern Virginia are blanketing many coastal communities with heavy smoke that could contain high levels of particle pollution. Air quality monitors have measured unhealthy air pollution levels in areas downwind of the fires, even as far west as Raleigh, Greensboro and Winston-Salem at times.

The DAQ has a network of monitors across the state to measure air quality conditions and has set up temporary monitors around the Pocosin Lakes fire. However, the division does not have enough equipment or manpower to place monitors in every city or county, so it has developed the following guidelines for citizens to use in assessing local air quality conditions during the current wildfire event:

If you can smell smoke with no visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Orange range, or Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. At Code Orange levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. People who are active outdoors also should take it easier to limit their exposure to particle pollution.
If you can smell smoke with minor visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Red range, or generally Unhealthy. At Code Red levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion; everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
If you can smell smoke with significant visibility impairment, air quality levels are probably in the Code Purple range, or Very Unhealthy. At Code Purple levels, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.

In all cases, people with asthma should follow their asthma action plan, and people with heart and respiratory diseases should check with their health-care provider about outdoor activities.

The primary pollutant of concern is fine particles, which are microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in the air. Particles can be harmful to breathe and contribute to haze and other air quality problems. Air monitors in Washington and Belhaven have recorded peak hourly particle levels ranging from 1,100 to 2,150 micrograms per cubic meter - or from 30 to 60 times the 24-hour standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

Indoor particle levels can be higher than normal when levels outside are high. However, people are still much safer indoors with their air conditioners running than outside. People in sensitive groups can minimize their risk by limiting their activities, indoors as well as outside.

Fine particles can penetrate deeply into the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream, causing or aggravating heart and lung diseases. Persons most susceptible to particle pollution include those with heart and respiratory conditions, the elderly and young children. Symptoms of exposure to high particle levels include: irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; coughing; phlegm; chest pain or tightness; shortness of breath; and asthma attacks. In people with heart disease, short-term exposures have been linked to heart attacks and irregular heartbeats. In extreme cases, particle pollution can cause premature death.

A wide range of sources contribute to particle pollution, including power plants and other industry, cars and trucks, wood stoves and outdoor fires. Smoke from the large wildfire in Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties is the primary cause for high particle levels that have blanketed parts of the state for the past two weeks.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has some brochures with more in-depth information on the health risks associated with smoke and particle pollution. The brochures can be viewed on-line at the following web pages:

How Smoke from Fires Can Affect Your Health, AIRNow - Forest Fire Smoke
Particle Pollution and Your Health, AIRNow - Particle Pollution and Your Health

The N.C. Division of Air Quality issues daily air forecasts for the Triangle, Charlotte, Asheville, Hickory, Fayetteville and Rocky Mount metropolitan areas. In the Triad, forecasts are issued by the Forsyth County Environmental Affairs Department. For additional information, call 1-888-RU4NCAIR (1-888-784-6224) or visit the DAQ Web site at N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) : Division of Air Quality or Forsyth County's web site at, Forsyth County > Environmental Affairs (http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/EnvAffairs/ - broken link)


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Old 02-01-2010, 05:43 PM
 
Location: Greenville, NC
4 posts, read 18,774 times
Reputation: 10
Yea that was a crazy few months in the Air Pollution agency. Nearly half the Division played a roll in the agency response. From operating temporary particle pollution monitors in areas affected by the smoke, to forecasting where the smoke would be the worst.
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