Local air quality deteriorates Monday in Routt County



The slopes of the Steamboat Resort were difficult to see from downtown Monday afternoon, as smoke from the Morgan Creek fire and other nearby fires blanketed the town for most of the day. (Photo by John F. Russell)

From Saturday to early Monday afternoon, seven patients attended UCHealth Emergency Care in Steamboat Springs for asthma attacks, acute asthma exacerbation or upper respiratory tract problems. likely caused by deteriorating local air quality with forest fires now burning at both ends of Routt County.

Emergency care physician assistant Sue Golden said many of these patients, aged 12 to 65, were visitors to the area who stayed outside for many hours because they were camping. . Golden has recommended that anyone with a history of asthma, chronic lung disease, or reactive airway disease ensure that they have up-to-date inhalers, continue to take their preventive respiratory medications, and take appropriate medication. exercise indoors.

Emergency care staff have also seen an increase in the number of additional patients with symptoms such as eye irritation, runny nose, dry throat and breathing problems, Golden said.

Longtime City Market pharmacist Susan Seitz said pharmacy staff spoke to a “more than usual” number of visitors and residents with dry, itchy eyes over the weekend. last end.

The online real-time air quality monitor PurpleAir.com at the North Routt Community Charter School recorded 232 PM 2.5, or fine particles, around 11 a.m. Monday, which landed in the blood-red raised area on the color coding system. A week earlier, the levels fell into the acceptable yellow range at 56 PM 2.5.

The Monday morning high reading at Clark falls into the PurpleAir Watch Zone of 201-300, which means “Health Alert: Where Anyone May Have More Serious Health Effects If Exposed For 24 Hours,” depending on the site. Tiny particles of air pollution reduce visibility and make the air cloudy when levels are high.

“These fine particles can get deep into the lungs, and some can even get into the bloodstream,” according to the US Environmental Protection Agency‘s website. “Exposure to these particles can affect a person’s lungs and heart.”

Since the Morgan Creek fire began in North Routt, air quality monitors in Routt County have gone from the orange zone, which is a warning to people with sensitive health, to the red zone , where everyone will start to experience health effects. At 11 a.m. Monday, the three monitors near downtown Steamboat Springs landed in the red zone at 172, 173 and 163 PM 2.5.

According to PurpleAir.com, an air quality level of 151 to 200 means, “Anyone can start to experience health effects if they are exposed for 24 hours; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. “

Routt County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman said some of the smoke entering Routt County could also come from other fires in the western states. He said the monitors provide local leaders and citizens with the tools to make more informed health decisions. Changing winds and weather conditions cause air quality to vary.

Cowman advises residents to review resources on the Environmental Health Air Quality website at http://www.co.routt.co.us/160/Air-Quality.

Routt County is now home to 10 active PurpleAir monitors after a Thunderhead Lift monitor was added Friday at 9,000 feet above sea level at the Steamboat Resort. It recorded 144 h 2.5 at 11 a.m. Monday. The monitor went online the same day the Morgan Creek fire started. Another monitor was recently uploaded in the Dakota Ridge neighborhood southwest of Steamboat, and this monitor showed 163.2.5 to 11 a.m. on Monday.

The general rule is that the poorer the air quality, the shorter the time residents should be outdoors, said Dr Todd Bull, director of the Center for Lungs and Breathing at UCHealth Pulmonary Vascular Disease. Clinic at Anschutz Medical Campus. .

One hour of exposure for people with respiratory and heart problems, for small children with growing lungs and for the elderly whose lung function declines with age may be enough to cause acute health problems, Bull explained. .



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