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Health officer, WVDEP caution West Virginians about wildfire smoke

Air Quality Index scores in some parts of state remain in 151-200 range; AQI of 0-50 is normal

WV Press Report

CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Dr. Steven Eshenaur, Kanawha-Charleston Health Officer, cautions that the smoky haze from Canadian wildfires is a health threat to those with breathing challenges.

Air Quality Index scores in some parts of West Virginia are still in the 151-200 range. An AQI of 0-50 is normal. This means that sensitive groups – children, the elderly, people with heart disease, asthma, COPD, emphysema, lung cancer, or other sensitivities – are at risk. To monitor air quality in your area, visit www.airnow.gov.

The haze was expected to begin improving as rain is predicted for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston.

Following overnight and morning rain, the AQI for the Kanawha Valley region was in the good range on Friday morning; however, parts of the Northern Panhandle remained over 150

Until the air in your area clears, Eshenaur discouraged outside activities.

“Smoke inhalation isn’t good for anyone, so avoid strenuous exercise in this kind of air quality situation. Consider staying inside and setting your AC on recirculation mode until the air clears. If you must go out, take it easy and make it quick!”

“If you have trouble breathing for any reason, you should stay indoors until the haze dissipates,” Eshenaur advised. “If you absolutely must go outside, you should wear an N-95 mask to block the fine particulate matter in the smoke from your airways.”

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (WVDEP) Division of Air Quality and the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ (DHHR) Bureau for Public Health (BPH) said the statewide Air Quality Advisory for fine particulate matter issued Wednesday remains in effect as smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to impact air quality.

According to AirNow.gov, Air Quality Index (AQI) scores in the 151-200 range (Red)indicate that some members of the general public may experience health effects and members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. Sensitive groups include children, people suffering from asthma, heart disease or other lung diseases, and the elderly.

Citizens are encouraged to check the AirNow website to see real time air quality data in their area and surrounding states. Officials advise view the interactive map for your area using the “contours” setting for Ozone and Particulate Matter (PM).

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