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Air Quality Alert #3: Air quality is unhealthy in Central Los Angeles County, the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, San Gabriel Mountains, the South Bay-Long Beach area, and the Santa Monica-Malibu area.
LOS ANGELES - Due to the fires, air quality is adversely affected in several parts of Los Angeles County. According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), the following areas are directly affected: Central Los Angeles County extending to West Hollywood, Alhambra, Commerce, and Windsor Hills; the San Fernando Valley; Santa Clarita Valley; the San Gabriel Mountains; the northern coastal area which includes Malibu to Santa Monica along the coast, extending inland to Beverly Hills and the West Hollywood area; and the southern coastal area, from South Bay-Long Beach, extending to the 110, 91 and 605 freeways. These areas may expand as the fires continue.
"In all areas of visible smoke, all individuals are urged to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities. We are also advising schools that are in session in smoke-impacted areas to suspend outside physical activities in these areas, including physical education and after-school sports, until conditions improve," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and County Health Officer. "In areas where smoke might not be visible, but may still be impacted by these fires, we are advising sensitive individuals, such as those with heart disease, asthma, or other respiratory disease, to stay indoors as much as possible."
Precautions regarding outdoor activities should be taken by all individuals in all areas of Los Angeles County showing visible smoke.
"It is difficult to tell where ash or soot from a wildfire will go, or how winds will affect the level of dust particles in the air, so we ask all individuals to be aware of their immediate environment and how it might affect their health," said Dr. Fielding.
The following recommendations will help you protect yourself and your family from harmful effects of bad air quality:
· If you see or smell smoke, or see a lot of particles and ash in the air, avoid unnecessary outdoor activity to limit your exposure to harmful air. This is especially important for those with heart or lung disease (including asthma), the elderly and children.
· If outdoor air is bad, try to keep indoor air as clean as possible by keeping windows and doors closed. Air conditioners that re-circulate air within the home can help filter out harmful particles. Avoid using air conditioning units that only draw in air from the outside or that do not have a re-circulating option. Residents should check the filters on their air conditioners and replace them regularly. Indoor air filtration devices with HEPA filters can further reduce the level of particles that circulate indoors.
· If it is too hot during the day to keep the doors or windows closed and you do not have an air conditioning unit that re-circulates indoor air, consider going to an air conditioned public place, such as a library or shopping center, to stay cool and to protect yourself from harmful air.
· Also, do not use fireplaces (either wood burning or gas), candles, and vacuums. Use damp cloths to clean dusty indoor surfaces. Do not smoke.
· If you have symptoms of lung or heart disease that may be related to smoke exposure, including severe coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness, contact your doctor immediately or go to an urgent care center.
When smoke is heavy for a prolonged period of time, fine particles can build up indoors even though you may not be able to see them. Wearing a mask may prevent exposures to large particles. However, most masks do not prevent exposure to fine particles and toxic gases, which may be more dangerous to your health.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.