ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Program issued a Health Alert due to elevated ozone levels and smoke on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, which will expire on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at 2 p.m. An Air Quality Alert has also been issued by the National Weather Service as a result of the wildfires in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico continue to produce smoke which continues to spread into western and central New Mexico.
Note: Images are in EST
Residents living in western and central New Mexico are urged to prepare for reduced air quality through the mid-afternoon hours as the conditions. Poor air quality impacts Individuals with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease, lung cancer, and heart disease. If smoke concentrations become unhealthy, adults over 65, young children, and pregnant women will also be vulnerable.
According to the Health Alert, individuals who are at a 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 also increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and infection with COVID-19 can increase health impacts from ozone and smoke exposure. A Health Alert was also issued on Monday and extended into Tuesday.
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.