The air quality in Mendocino County is likely to be affected by wildfires for weeks to come, according to the Mendocino County Air Quality District.
Ongoing high pressure and northerly winds are expected to continue bringing smoke from southern Oregon and Northern California until the fires are out and southwest winds bring cooler temperatures.
Wildfire smoke contains small particle pollution as well as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and other volatile organic compounds. High levels of small particle pollution are unhealthy for everyone, especially people with cardio-pulmonary conditions. Children and elderly people are also vulnerable.
You will know you are being affected by the smoke if you have cold-like symptoms such as a scratchy throat, cough, irritated sinuses, headaches, runny nose and stinging eyes. You may also feel shortness of breath. If you begin to feel these symptoms inside your home after a long spell of poor air quality, contact your doctor or the county health department.
Some tips to protect your health include staying indoors if possible, and avoiding using anything that burns, including wood or gas stoves. Keep windows and doors closed, and run your air conditioner, if you have one. Dust masks will not protect you from the small particles in wildfire smoke, which are too small to see with the naked eye. An indoor filtration device with a clean HEPA filter can reduce the small particulate matter in the home, though the ones that generate ozone will just increase pollution levels.
A couple of nearby blazes that may be contributing to the air quality in Mendocino County are the Helena Fire in Trinity County, and the Salmon FIre in Siskyou County. As of Monday afternoon, both fires were 14% contained. The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order for residents between Helena and Oregon Mountain Summit.