Air Quality Advisory through 9 p.m. on September 7

Air Quality Advisory through 9 p.m. on September 7

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has issued an Air Quality Advisory through Monday, September 7 at 9 p.m. Hazy conditions are expected due to smoke from surrounding areas.  

Dry, windy conditions are expected with a Red Flag warning in effect through 9 p.m.  This critical fire weather, combined with poor smoke dispersal and the fine particulates forecast in the moderate category prompted the advisory.  

When air quality is in the moderate (yellow) range there is an increased risk for people in sensitive groups, including people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and young children. If visibility is less than five miles due to smoke, the smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.

Residents are advised to take the following precautions to stay healthy:

  • Avoid heavy outdoor exertion such as running or other forms of exercise.
  • Keep your indoor air clean and stay inside as much as possible.
  • Avoid activities that increase indoor pollution. You want to keep your indoor air as clean as possible.
    • Do not vacuum. It stirs up dust in your home.
    • Do not smoke tobacco in your home.
    • Do not burn candles, fireplaces or gas stoves.
  • Contact your health care provider if you’re concerned about your health.

Open burning of any kind, including agricultural burns, is not allowed when a Red Flag or other weather warnings or alerts are in place.  Mesa County remains under Stage 2 Fire restrictions which prohibit all types of burning, including agricultural burns without a special permit from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

For more information on air quality conditions and alerts, including real-time readings through a community-sourced monitoring system called Purple Air, visit our air quality page.

Public Health Emerging Issues: Wildfire Smoke Impacting Air Quality

Public Health Emerging Issues: Wildfire Smoke Impacting Air Quality

Smoke from the Pine Gulch Fire burning approximately 20 miles north of Grand Junction continues to affect local air quality.

Persistent smoky conditions are impacting communities and residents throughout Mesa, Delta, Montrose, Eagle, Pitkin, Lake, Gunnison, and Garfield counties.

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) recommends monitoring current air quality conditions and taking steps to protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke.

Air Quality Conditions and Health Advisories

  • For current air quality conditions, health advisories, and details, including instructions about how to use visibility to determine air quality, visit the air quality page of our website
  • Smoke levels may change rapidly throughout the day due to wind and weather conditions.
  • You can monitor changes in smoke in your area and make plans accordingly. 

Understanding Air Quality Alert Levels

The Air Quality Index, or AQI, is used to measure the level of air pollution.  It assigns a value based on the particulate matter in the air.  The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. 

AQI values at or below 100 are generally thought of as satisfactory. When AQI values are above 100, air quality is unhealthy: at first for certain sensitive groups of people, then for everyone as AQI values get higher.

The AQI is divided into categories. Each category corresponds to a different level of health concern. Each category also has a specific color. The color makes it easy for people to quickly determine whether air quality is reaching unhealthy levels in their communities.

Public Health Recommendations to Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke

  • If possible, limit your exposure to smoke. Here are some tips to reduce exposure:
    • Avoid Smoky Periods – Smoke often changes over the course of a day. Track conditions and plan your activities to avoid the worst periods of air quality.
    • Stay Indoors –  Do not go outdoors during periods of increased smoke. If you can’t see the mountains clearly, the air quality may be unhealthy.
    • Reduce Activity – Reducing physical activity lowers the amount of inhaled pollutants and reduces health risks during smoke events.
    • Watch for Symptoms of Excessive Smoke Exposure – Children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to smoke exposure. If you or someone in your family have symptoms related to smoke exposure such as difficulty breathing, prolonged coughing, or chest pain contact your health care provider.
    • Keep Indoor Air Clean – Close all windows and doors. Swamp coolers do not offer filtration and should not be used during smoky conditions. Air conditioners may be run with the fresh air intake closed. If you are unable to keep your indoor air clean or it is too hot, consider relocating to an area with cleaner air.
      • Use a do-it-yourself box fan filtration unit to help keep the air in your home clean.
      • Consider a portable air cleaner that can be used alone or with enhanced central air filtration to effectively remove particles.

For more information on local air quality conditions, and to view conditions in real-time through community-sourced purple air monitors visit health.mesacounty.us

Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19

Wildfire Smoke and COVID-19

  • Wildfire smoke from the Pine Gulch Fire burning about 20 miles north of Grand Junction is causing air quality concerns. Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) is urging residents to take action to protect themselves from wildfire smoke.
  • Air quality monitors Wednesday show AQI levels in the unhealthy, or red (between 151-250) category with more severe impacts at the east end of the valley near Palisade. At these levels, everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, not just sensitive groups. If you develop symptoms suggesting lung or heart problems, consult a health care provider as soon as possible.
  • Critical fire weather conditions continue with a red flag warning in place for Mesa and several surrounding counties with gusty winds, low relative humidity and dry fuels expected to increase fire activity. 

Strategies to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
    • Limit outdoor exercise or choose lower-intensity activities.
    • Keep doors and windows tightly closed to decrease the amount of smoke that could enter.
    • Create a clean room, with filtered air at home.
  • Use air conditioners, fans, and window shades to keep your indoor air space cool.
    • Evaporative coolers, known as “swamp coolers” should be turned off during periods of heavy smoke unless there is a heat emergency. These coolers rely on bringing outside air into the home and won’t cool effectively if the home is sealed up so air can be released. 
  • Use caution while inside your vehicle.
    • Keep windows and vents closed.
    • Turn the air conditioning to “recirculate” mode.
  • Wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more susceptible to lung infections, including COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 and smoke exposure can have similar symptoms, but it’s important to know the difference.
    • Symptoms that are similar are dry cough, sore throat and difficulty breathing.
    • If you experience symptoms such as fever or chills, muscle or body aches, and diarrhea, call MCPH COVID-19 hotline at 970-683-2300 to be screened for testing as these are not related to smoke exposure.
  • Avoid activities that create smoke or other air pollutants to decrease indoor particle levels including:
    • Smoking cigarettes, pipes, and cigars.
    • Spraying aerosol products.
    • Frying or broiling food.
    • Burning candles or incense. 
    • Vacuuming, unless you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Preparation is key:

  • Recommendations if you are at risk for smoke exposure include maintaining nonperishable groceries not requiring cooking. 
  • People with chronic diseases should check with their health care provider about precautions ahead of smoke events and have adequate supply of medication available.
  • People who experience asthma should have a written asthma action plan.

Some people are more at risk of harmful health effects from wildfire smoke than others, including:

  • Children less than 18 years old
  • Adults aged 65 years or older
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic health conditions such as heart or lung disease, asthma, and diabetes
  • Outdoor workers
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness or those who have limited access to medical care
  • People who are immunocompromised or taking drugs that suppress the immune system. 
  • Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in place in Mesa County, open burning of any kind is not allowed.
  • For more information on local air quality conditions, and to view conditions in real time through community sourced purple air monitors visit health.mesacounty.us
Air Quality Advisory through 9 p.m. on September 7

MCPH issues wildfire smoke advisory due to Pine Gulch Fire

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has issued a smoke advisory beginning Wednesday, August 5 due to smoke from the Pine Gulch Fire, approximately 20 miles north of Grand Junction. It is expected that air quality issues due to wildfire smoke will continue for an extended period as crews work to control the growing fire. MCPH will notify residents when the advisory is lifted.

Periods of moderate to heavy smoke can be expected and the highest impact areas include locations near the fire in rural northern Mesa County and southwestern Garfield County, including Hunter Canyon, Corcoran Wash, South Dry Fork, and locations west of Garfield County Road 222.

Remember, if smoke is thick in your area, stay inside – especially if you have heart disease or respiratory illness. Infants, very young children and elderly residents are also advised to stay inside if smoke becomes thick. All residents should consider limiting heavy physical outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present and consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill.

If visibility is less than five miles due to smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy. 

Fire safety conditions also remain a concern. Hot temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds have prompted the national weather service to issue a Red Flag Warning for much of Western Colorado beginning Thursday August 6. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions have been in place in Mesa County since June 26, meaning that open burning is not allowed. 

For information on current air quality conditions, visit the air quality page on our website.

NO BURN ADVISORY through July 8 due to fire safety concerns

NO BURN ADVISORY through July 8 due to fire safety concerns

UPDATE:  This advisory has been extended through July 8 at 9 p.m.

Due to fire safety concerns, Mesa County Public Health has issued no burn advisory through July 8 at 9 p.m. Burning of any kind, including agricultural burning, is not allowed during this advisory period. 

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Mesa County and other areas across the Western Slope. The combination of gusty winds, low relative humidity, and dry fuels will result in critical fire weather conditions. 

Mesa County Public Health reminds residents of the Stage 1 fire restrictions in place which means no open burning is allowed without a special permit from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

Stage 1 fire restrictions were announced on June 26 and prohibit:

  • Personal use of fireworks
  • Campfires outside of designated fire pits or fire rings
  • Agricultural open burning without a Sheriff’s issued burn permit
  • Use of explosive targets
  • Smoking outside near combustible materials.

Spring Burn Season ended May 31 and was suspended in mid-March due to concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated threat to people with heart and/or lung disease. Instead of burning, consider these alternatives:

  • Take yard waste to the Mesa County Organic Materials composting facility at Mesa County Solid Waste, 3071 U.S. Hwy. 50. The facility accepts material for composting at no charge and is open Thursday-Saturday, 8 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. 
  • Compost leaves and grass clippings yourself. This can improve water retention in your yard or garden.
  • Rent or borrow a wood chipper for your tree and shrub trimmings. Chipped branches can also be good mulch.

 

NO BURN ADVISORY through July 8 due to fire safety concerns

MCPH Issues NO BURN ADVISORY through June 7 due to fire safety concerns

Due to fire safety concerns, Mesa County Public Health has issued a no burn advisory through Sunday, June 7 at 9 p.m. No open burning is allowed, including agricultural burns. 

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Mesa County and other areas across the Western Slope. The combination of gusty winds, low relative humidity, and dry fuels will result in critical fire weather conditions. High winds are forecast to continue through the weekend, gusting as high as 40 miles per hour. Burning of any kind, including open burning, is not allowed during this advisory period.  

Spring Burn Season ended May 31 and was suspended in mid-March due to concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated threat to people with heart and/or lung disease.

Instead of burning, consider these alternatives:

  • Take yard waste to the Mesa County Organic Materials composting facility at Mesa County Solid Waste, 3071 U.S. Hwy. 50. The facility accepts material for composting at no charge and is open Thursday-Saturday, 8 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. 
  • Compost leaves and grass clippings yourself. This can improve water retention in your yard or garden.
  • Rent or borrow a wood chipper for your tree and shrub trimmings. Chihttps://health.mesacounty.uspped branches can also be good mulch.

For information on current air quality and fire weather conditions and to learn if it’s OK to burn, visit the air quality page on our website