The Los Angeles County Health Officer is issuing a health alert due to the smoke and associated air pollution from fires in Malibu Canyon, Canyon Country, and the Santa Clarita area. Smoke from these fires includes small particles and gases that can cause health problems.
“Despite significant efforts toward fire containment, air quality in some parts of the County is being adversely affected by the fires,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and County Health Officer. “Small air particles carrying through Los Angeles County can have adverse health effects, and will be particularly unhealthful for sensitive individuals. Those individuals should avoid strenuous outdoor activities.”
Health officials recommend that “all individuals exercise caution and avoid unnecessary outdoor activities, and sensitive individuals limit prolonged exertion in smoke impacted areas. Schools in these areas should take care to assure that sensitive students also limit their outdoor physical activity such as engaging in strenuous team sports.”
In addition, due to strong Santa Ana wind conditions in the passes and canyons in Los Angeles County, concentrations of dust particles may also cause unhealthy air quality. All individuals are urged to exercise caution and minimize outdoor activities and sensitive individuals should limit prolonged exertion in the dust impacted areas as well.
Sensitive individuals at greatest risk include those with heart disease or lung diseases, including emphysema, asthma and chronic lung problems. These individuals should monitor their condition and be vigilant about taking their medicines as prescribed by their doctor. If their symptoms worsen, they should contact their doctor. In addition, the elderly are more susceptible to the effects of smoke and dust and should be contacted to be sure they are not feeling any ill effects and understand how to limit their exposure. Individuals with asthma should keep their “as needed” inhalers with them at all times.
Residents outside these affected areas should be aware that the presence of smoky odors and ash are not necessarily cause for health concerns. However, sensitive individuals should continue to monitor their condition and consult their physician if their symptoms worsen.
Staying indoors can somewhat reduce exposure to smoke and dust, and keeping doors and windows closed while running the air conditioner is a good idea. Residents should check the filters on their air conditioners and replace them regularly. Indoor air filtration devices with HEPA filters can reduce the level of particles that circulate indoors.
For more detailed information about air quality related to the wildfires, visit the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s website at www.aqmd.gov or call 1-800-CUT-SMOG (288-7664).