ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Health Alert has been issued for the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County area due to elevated ozone levels and smoke. The alert issued by the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program is effective at 12 a.m. on Monday, June 14, and will expire the same day at 2 p.m.
The National Weather Service reports that smoke will persist on Monday due to regional wildfires and results periods of hazy skies. Health Alerts are issued by the Air Quality Program if conditions worsen to the point that individuals with respiratory conditions may be impacted by outdoor activity.
The Air Quality Program states that those who are sensitive to particulate matter such as people with asthma, chronic bronchitis, or other respiratory and heart diseases are encouraged to limit outdoor activity. Additionally, children and older adults may be affected by particulate pollution.
Individuals who are at higher risk for respiratory issues from ozone and smoke are also more susceptible to infection and severe health consequences from COVID-19. Exposure to ozone and smoke can increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms according to the Air Quality Program.
If it is smoky outside find out how far you can see. First, decide if the visibility is closer to 5 miles, 3 miles or 1 mile. pick a landmark you are familiar with and see if you can see it. Facing away from the sun, look for landmarks such as mountains, mesas, hills, or buildings in those mile ranges to help you estimate visibility. If these objects are not easy to see in these mile ranges, then decide:
Is the visibility under 5 miles? If you can see less than 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; they should minimize outdoor activity. These people should reschedule outdoor recreational activities for a day with better air quality. It is okay for adults in good health to be out and about but they should periodically check visibility especially when fires are nearby.
Is the visibility just about 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. These people should stay indoors. All outdoor activities should be avoided, including running errands. Everyone else should try to stay indoors as much as possible. All outdoor recreational activities should be rescheduled for a day with better air quality.
Is the visibility about 1 mile? If you can see less than 1 mile that means the air quality is unhealthy for everyone. People should remain indoors and avoid all outdoor activities including running errands. Unless an evacuation has been issued, stay inside your home, indoor workplace, or in a safe shelter.
Regardless of the visibility, if you are feeling as though you are having health effects from smoke, take precautions to avoid exposure to smoke and see your doctor or health professional as needed.
Since the southwest United States typically has very low humidity, visibility can be an effective tool to determine if it is healthy to be outside when smoke is present. The visibility test is not appropriate or effective in areas with high humidity, such as the southeastern United States, where water vapor (fog) may limit visibility.