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Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke through 9 a.m. Sept. 11

Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke through 9 a.m. Sept. 11

Air Quality Alert for Wildfire Smoke: Extended through 9:00 AM MDT, Saturday, September 11, 2021.

Affected Area: Mesa County

Outlook:  Widespread wildfire smoke, originating largely from out-of-state wildfires.


Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has issued an Air Quality Advisory through Wednesday, September 8 at 9 a.m.

Due to air quality concerns, no open burning is allowed during the advisory period.

Hazy conditions are expected due to smoke from surrounding areas. The number of tiny particles (fine particulates or PM 2.5) in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated has been in the moderate range prompting the alert. 

When air quality is in the moderate or higher range, there’s 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 can be 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.

Even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms, such as:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

Contact your health care provider if you’re concerned about your health. 

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

Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke Lifted August 13

Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke Lifted August 13

UPDATE #6 -Improved Air Quality conditions have prompted Mesa County Public Health to lift the Air Quality Advisory that was in effect due to Wildfire Smoke.

Heavy smoke from California wildfires continues to circulate throughout Colorado, affecting western and central Colorado. Conditions have improved, but sensitive groups should consider continued precautions.


UPDATE #5 – Mesa County Public Health is extending its Air Quality Advisory until further notice.

Outlook: Heavy smoke from California wildfires continues to circulate throughout Colorado, affecting western and central Colorado. Expect the heaviest smoke impacts in sheltered valley locations where atmospheric mixing is more limited


UPDATE #4 – Mesa County Public Health is extending its Air Quality Advisory through 9:00 AM on Monday, August 9.

Outlook: Heavy smoke from California wildfires will continue to move into Colorado Sunday, affecting western and central Colorado on Sunday and Monday. Expect the heaviest smoke impacts in sheltered valley locations where atmospheric mixing is more limited


UPDATE #3 – Mesa County Public Health is extending its Air Quality Advisory through 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 8.

Advisory in Effect: Through 9:00 AM MDT, August 8, 2021.

Outlook: Widespread smoke has been observed across the advisory area Saturday morning, particularly across northwestern and west-central Colorado where the smoke has been heavy. Smoke will continue to spread from northwest to southeast across the advisory area through Saturday afternoon with areas of moderate to heavy smoke expected through at least Sunday morning.


UPDATE #2 – Mesa County Public Health is extending its Air Quality Advisory through 9:00 AM on Saturday, August 7.

Advisory in Effect:  Through 9:00 AM MDT, Saturday, August 7, 2021.

Outlook: Heavy smoke from California wildfires will begin to move into northwestern Colorado Friday afternoon and spread in a southeasterly direction across the rest of western and central Colorado Friday night into Saturday morning. Expect the heaviest smoke impacts in sheltered valley locations where atmospheric mixing is more limited.


UPDATE #1 8/5 5:00 PM – Mesa County Public Health is extending its Air Quality Advisory through 8:00 PM on Friday, August 6.


Due to moderate smoke in the region, MCPH has issued an Air Quality Advisory from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Thursday, August 5.

The expected Air Quality Index (AQI) ranges from good to moderate, and the smoke dispersal forecast ranges from poor to fair throughout the day.

We assume the smoke to be wildfire-related, as it is not uncommon for haze from in-state and out-of-state fires to impact our air quality in the summer months. 

When air quality is in the moderate or poor range, there’s 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 unhealthy levels.

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.
    • Contact your health care provider if you’re concerned about your health.

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

Air Quality Health Advisory for Wildfire Smoke Lifted August 13

MCPH Issues Air Quality Advisory for Wildfire Smoke

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has issued an Air Quality Advisory through Saturday, June 12 at 9:00 AM.

Areas of moderate to heavy smoke have been observed across Mesa County Friday morning, particularly in valley locations. Smoke will gradually decrease late Friday morning, however any fire activity today at the Pack Creek wildfire in eastern Utah will send smoke back into the area late Friday afternoon and Friday evening. This brings the potential for another period of moderate to heavy smoke overnight Friday and into early Saturday morning.

If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, 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.
    • Avoid generating aerosols.
  • Consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill.
  • Contact your health care provider if you’re concerned about your health.
  • Avoid generating particulate pollution (burning, blowing, using combustion engines).

Individuals with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly are especially sensitive to poor air quality.

Agricultural burns, which are allowed year-round, are not allowed when there are air quality advisories or high wind, Red Flag, or other weather warnings in place.

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

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