DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS
The New Mexico Health and Environment departments report smoke from California wildfires is affecting the air quality in in the metropolitan areas, such as Las Cruces and Albuquerque. These areas may experience poorer air quality as a compounding effect of the wildfire smoke and urban factors producing ground-level ozone.
Since these impacts can occur overnight, taking precautions such as closing windows before bedtime and turning off evaporative (swamp coolers) can protect residents if smoke concentrations become unhealthy. These precautions are important for residents with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), interstitial lung disease (ILD) or lung cancer, heart disease, adults over age 65, young children, and pregnant women.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affecting New Mexico and with the wildfire season underway, New Mexicans will need to take extra precautions. Exposure to smoke from wildfires could potentially worsen symptoms from COVID-19 infection. The best way to protect against the potentially harmful effects of wildfire smoke and to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home and create a clean indoor air space.
NMDOH offers tips here: https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/IndoorQuality.html; https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/FireAndSmoke.html; and https://cv.nmhealth.org/. New Mexicans will also need to take steps to keep their homes cool to avoid heat-related illnesses. NMDOH offers tips here: https://nmtracking.org/health/heatstress/Heat.html.
Your eyes are your best tools to determine if it is safe to be outside. Use the 5-3-1 Method available at https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/FireAndSmoke.html.
If visibility is:
· Under 5 miles, the air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. Outdoor activity should be minimized.
· Around 3 miles, young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities.
· Around 1 mile, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone. People should remain indoors and avoid all outdoor activities including running errands. Unless an evacuation order has been issued, stay inside your home, indoor workplace, or in a safe shelter.