News

Staying Healthy: Smoke and ash abound in Tri-Valley skies

Wildfires bring another health threat to town; what to do about it

A look at the smoky skies toward the west, as seen from the Pleasanton Weekly office building on midmorning Wednesday. (Photo by Jeremy Walsh)

Recent wildfires have been a particular challenge this year, and one noticeable impact of the raging flames is the unhealthy air quality -- look no farther than the smoke and ash that filled orange skies on Wednesday morning.

Just when everyone thought the healthiest place was outside, suddenly it wasn't.

"The air quality impacts of these wildfires burning throughout Northern California are a testimony to the ongoing harmful impacts of climate change," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, as wildfires caused elevated levels of smoke pollution in late August. "It's important for us all to continue to be vigilant and stay indoors as smoke continues to impact the region."

Wildfire smoke contains fine particles that are respiratory irritants which, when inhaled deeply, can affect the lungs and the heart, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department. Exposure to high concentrations of these fine particles can cause a persistent cough, a runny nose, phlegm, wheezing and difficulty breathing.

ACPHD officials cautioned those with respiratory conditions, compromised immune systems or other significant health issues, but noted that exposure to wildfire smoke can affect healthy people, too. It can cause respiratory symptoms as well as reductions in lung function, including the ability to remove foreign materials from the lungs, such as pollen and bacteria.

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When wildfire smoke is in evidence, residents are advised to do following:

* Stay indoors with windows and doors closed.

* Keep indoor air cool or visit an air-cooling center.

* Set home and car ventilation systems on recirculate to prevent drawing in outside air.

* Stay hydrated by drinking water.

* Limit or avoid outdoor activities.

* Use an air filter, especially for household members with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions, or elderly persons and children.

* Avoid using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, lawn mowing, leaf blowing, burning candles and incense, barbecuing, smoking.

* If possible, leave the affected area for the duration of a heavy smoke event.

The air district also advises residents to keep polluted air out of their homes by caulking windows and using weather-stripping under doors. Windows and doors can be sealed with paper towels held in place with painter's tape.

If adults must go outdoors, they may benefit from wearing an N95 mask, according to Kaiser Permanente, which can block the fine particulate matter in smoke.

Kaiser also noted that irritation or swelling in the air passages may not be noticed until several hours after exposure to smoke. If impacted, it advises the following:

* Get plenty of rest and sleep; your energy level will improve with time. Prop up your head on pillows to help you breathe and ease a cough.

* Suck on cough drops or hard candy to soothe a dry or sore throat.

* Take cough medicine if your doctor tells you to.

* Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you.

* Avoid things that may irritate your lungs, which include cold, dry air or hot, humid air.

Call your doctor if you cough up yellow, dark brown or bloody mucus; if your coughing or wheezing gets worse; or if you do not start to feel better.

The air district continually monitors the air and posts Spare the Air alerts. Sign up for text alerts by texting the word "START" to 817-57; register for email AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org; call 1-800-HELP-AIR; download the Spare the Air App; or connect with Spare the Air on Facebook or Twitter.

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Staying Healthy: Smoke and ash abound in Tri-Valley skies

Wildfires bring another health threat to town; what to do about it

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 9, 2020, 9:49 am

Recent wildfires have been a particular challenge this year, and one noticeable impact of the raging flames is the unhealthy air quality -- look no farther than the smoke and ash that filled orange skies on Wednesday morning.

Just when everyone thought the healthiest place was outside, suddenly it wasn't.

"The air quality impacts of these wildfires burning throughout Northern California are a testimony to the ongoing harmful impacts of climate change," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, as wildfires caused elevated levels of smoke pollution in late August. "It's important for us all to continue to be vigilant and stay indoors as smoke continues to impact the region."

Wildfire smoke contains fine particles that are respiratory irritants which, when inhaled deeply, can affect the lungs and the heart, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department. Exposure to high concentrations of these fine particles can cause a persistent cough, a runny nose, phlegm, wheezing and difficulty breathing.

ACPHD officials cautioned those with respiratory conditions, compromised immune systems or other significant health issues, but noted that exposure to wildfire smoke can affect healthy people, too. It can cause respiratory symptoms as well as reductions in lung function, including the ability to remove foreign materials from the lungs, such as pollen and bacteria.

When wildfire smoke is in evidence, residents are advised to do following:

* Stay indoors with windows and doors closed.

* Keep indoor air cool or visit an air-cooling center.

* Set home and car ventilation systems on recirculate to prevent drawing in outside air.

* Stay hydrated by drinking water.

* Limit or avoid outdoor activities.

* Use an air filter, especially for household members with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions, or elderly persons and children.

* Avoid using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, lawn mowing, leaf blowing, burning candles and incense, barbecuing, smoking.

* If possible, leave the affected area for the duration of a heavy smoke event.

The air district also advises residents to keep polluted air out of their homes by caulking windows and using weather-stripping under doors. Windows and doors can be sealed with paper towels held in place with painter's tape.

If adults must go outdoors, they may benefit from wearing an N95 mask, according to Kaiser Permanente, which can block the fine particulate matter in smoke.

Kaiser also noted that irritation or swelling in the air passages may not be noticed until several hours after exposure to smoke. If impacted, it advises the following:

* Get plenty of rest and sleep; your energy level will improve with time. Prop up your head on pillows to help you breathe and ease a cough.

* Suck on cough drops or hard candy to soothe a dry or sore throat.

* Take cough medicine if your doctor tells you to.

* Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you.

* Avoid things that may irritate your lungs, which include cold, dry air or hot, humid air.

Call your doctor if you cough up yellow, dark brown or bloody mucus; if your coughing or wheezing gets worse; or if you do not start to feel better.

The air district continually monitors the air and posts Spare the Air alerts. Sign up for text alerts by texting the word "START" to 817-57; register for email AirAlerts at www.sparetheair.org; call 1-800-HELP-AIR; download the Spare the Air App; or connect with Spare the Air on Facebook or Twitter.

Comments

James Michael
Registered user
Val Vista
on Sep 9, 2020 at 10:20 am
James Michael, Val Vista
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 10:20 am
17 people like this

Of course the government official would blame climate change for the fires. the fires have nothing to do with the environmentalists not wanting trees to be removed to thin the herd and the state's total mismanagement of the forests and the power grid.


buklau
Registered user
Stoneridge
on Sep 9, 2020 at 11:48 am
buklau, Stoneridge
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 11:48 am
14 people like this

If I start a fire in my backyard, can I call it climate change too? How about global warming?


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Sep 9, 2020 at 11:56 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Sep 9, 2020 at 11:56 am
12 people like this

I imagine that some of the claims of climate change have to do with how dry everything is that makes these fires so devastating.


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 10, 2020 at 8:07 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 10, 2020 at 8:07 pm
4 people like this

Kathleen,
I wish it was. But it’s clear dismissal of the same type of responsibility they are accusing the president of excusing himself of.


Rich Buckley
Registered user
Livermore
on Sep 15, 2020 at 6:53 pm
Rich Buckley, Livermore
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2020 at 6:53 pm
Like this comment

9/15/2020 Rethinking Containment and Control of a Forest Fire. What sometimes takes days and weeks needs to be cut down to minutes and hours. We can do it theoretically.

Command and Control: GENERAL CURTIS LEMAY APPROACH

(1) Delegate authority to State Level, air safety lead-in pilots, to render on site airborne authority to call up Federal air support tanker back-up. Train a new forestry air wing with modern tanker assets, strategically deployed around the country.

(2) Once the State Level, air safety lead-in pilot makes the call for Federal back up, they remain on station to control and direct incoming backup Federal air tankers. Federal Air Tankers will arrive in mass, in a long trail, lead by their own additional air safety lead-in pilot to assess and demonstrate the line of flight inbound air tankers should take as the best route into the drop zone. Each tanker has a flight position in trail: "Airborne Federal Flight 1, Tanker 2 would have, call sign " Flight 1 Tanker 2" , Flight 1 Tanker 3, Flight 1 Tanker 4.

There are 10 aircraft in each minimum size Federal Fight, in trail. Each 10 aircraft make up a flight. The fly in trail in 30 second intervals, VFR, and in visual contact with the plane ahead of them.

(3) Taker pilots should be ready to return to base or divert to another fire on command. If diverted to another fire on demand, the trail of plans break off at a point determined by the original State Level air safety lead-in pilot, who calls the break off point in the trail of tankers, using "fight of 10 aircraft as the break off points. No mission is greater than 50 in line tankers or 5 flights. The experienced air-safety lead-in pilots will learn through experience where to call the break point.

AIR CHATTER AND COORDINATION

"Breaker, Breaker, Foxtrot Flight Leader 3, This is Cal State Fire air safety Command Pilot over the Paradise Fire, Do you read me?, Over.

Roger Paradise Command ready to copy, over."

Foxtrot Flight Leader 3, Paradise Command, You have the lead to a new fire target, bearing 130-degrees at 178 miles from your current position. How many tankers do you have in tow? I will meet you over the target.

Paradise Command, This is Foxtrot Leader 3 in a string of 4 flights. I have myself and 19 tankers in tow. I can divert with 20 aircraft total, We are all airborne in route to Paradise Fire. We are armed with Red Retardant. 4 aircraft with water.

Roger Foxtrot Lead 3. are you VFR or IFR and what are your intervals?

Paradise Command we are VFR in 30 second intervals.

Roger Foxtrot Lead 3, lead Flight 3 and 4 to heading 130 degrees and proceed to your new Target. Flight 4 remain in trail with Flight 3, Expand your internal between aircraft to 1 minute.

Roger Command, 1- minute interval, Flight lead 3 over.
Roger Command, 1- minute interval, Flight lead 4 over.

On another frequency each flight is confirming information with their flight leader.

IN SUMMARY

It seems we need a Gen. Curtis LeMay-like aerial tanker bombing campaign, to use airborne equipment in a continuous line, called in by the air safety command lead-in pilots (who by the way are always well trained and senior pilots with thousands of hours and used to talking, thinking, and looking outside the cockpit at what's going on around them and on the ground).

THE CORE DEFECT WE MUST OVERCOME

The problem seems not to be the range of the aircraft as much as it is the number and frequency of aircraft attacking in a continuous run of drops and how long it takes to get to a level where other resources are called in to assist California. We can’t wait days.

These fires can be put out quickly if we organize attack strategies slightly. There is evidence they may be started by subversive groups during this political season. Whatever the cause, a change in attack strategy will smother the fire quickly on the one hand while allowing the Forestry Department to let segments burn as the Forestry Department may determine is good for growth and underbrush management and forest health.


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