ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The health alert for today has been allowed to expire because particulate monitors in Albuquerque show fine particulate levels gradually dropping and forecast models show that trend continuing through the afternoon. Despite the smoke, ozone levels will probably be limited to the moderate AQI category today due to a steady 10-15 mph breeze.

With the wind continuing to come out of the southwest, smoke coming from the Bush Fire (near Phoenix) today will initially head toward Albuquerque. However, the deep easterly winds expected late tonight into Saturday morning will keep the smoke to the west of Albuquerque as long as the easterly winds continue. The east winds will diminish Saturday morning then turn westerly in the afternoon. The light west winds will bring some smoke into Albuquerque Saturday afternoon. If the winds are light enough and skies are sunny, ozone levels could become elevated.

As a low pressure system crosses the Rocky Mountains, winds across the region will shift to come out of the northwest Saturday afternoon. The shift in wind directions will keep smoke from the largest fires away from Albuquerque Saturday night and Sunday.

Wildfires and COVID-19

People who have respiratory issues should limit their outdoor activity. Also, people who are at higher risk for respiratory issues from wildfire smoke are also more susceptible to infection and severe health consequences from COVID-19, according to the CDC. Exposure to smoke can aggravate the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Exposure to air pollutants in wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, likely including COVID-19.
  • Recent scientific publications suggest that air pollutant exposure worsens COVID-19 symptoms and outcomes.
  • Information on symptoms of COVID-19 is available. If you are experiencing symptoms unrelated to smoke exposure such as, fever or chills, muscle or body aches, diarrhea, the CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker can help determine whether further assessment or testing for COVID-19 is needed.
  • If you have questions after using the CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker, you should contact a healthcare provider.

The City of Albuquerque suggests these steps to take during a health alert:

  • Limit your time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise.
  • Schools and senior citizen facilities may want to provide indoor activities to minimize exposure to elevated outdoor particulate levels.
  • Keep windows and doors closed. If needed for comfort, use air conditioners or heating systems on recycle/recirculation mode.
  • If symptoms of heart or lung disease occur, (including shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest pain, palpitations or unusual fatigue) contact your health care provider.
  • Individuals with heart or lung disease should follow their health management plan from their health care provider.
  • Asthmatic individuals should follow a prescribed asthma management plan.