The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) issued a statewide air quality advisory Wednesday and reported that particulate levels were expected to be elevated throughout the state on Thursday.
The department reported that the poor air quality is caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires and urged Ohioans to be aware of possible health effects due to exposure to the particulates. The department reported that the smoke from wildfires contains particulates which can be inhaled into people’s lungs and cause irritation of the eyes, nose or throat, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain; and can also aggravate chronic heart and lung conditions.
“Exposure to smoke can cause health problems for anyone, but certain groups are more at risk than others,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the director of the department. “These include people with chronic heart or lung disease, children, the elderly, and pregnant women. It is important to take precautions until our air quality improves.”
AirNow.gov reported Thursday that Delaware County was at 105 on the Air Quality Index, meaning the air was unhealthy for sensitive groups and forecasted the number to reduce to 97 by Friday putting it in the “moderate” category. While categorized as moderate, individuals who are unusually sensitive to particle pollution should consider reducing their activity level or shortening how much time they spend outside.
AirNow reported the county’s index would be moderate through the weekend.
Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Alex McCarthy said Thursday the EMA has been monitoring the situation and said, “Thankfully, it has not been as bad here as it has in the northeast United States.”
The ODH reported that the most important precaution Ohioans can taken during bad air quality is limiting outdoor activities, especially outdoor exercise.
According to the ODH other precautions include:
• Spend time in a room you can close off from outside air.
• Avoid using candles, gas, propane, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, and aerosol sprays. Frying or broiling meat, smoking tobacco products, and vacuuming may worsen indoor air pollution.
• If you have a central air conditioning system, use high efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke. If your system has a fresh air intake, set the system to recirculate mode or close the outdoor intake damper.
• Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If your eyes, nose or throat are irritated, running a humidifier may provide some relief.
• It also is important to check in on anyone who is more at risk and to carefully monitor children.
Ohioans with asthma are encouraged to make sure they have enough medication for several days.
The department added that those with heart disease or COPD should pay close attention to symptoms such as chest pain or tightness, a fast heartbeat, feeling more out of breath than usual, or extreme fatigue.
To view real-time air quality information for specific areas, visit AirNow.gov.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.