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posted on September 07, 2017 11:28

BOISE  — Smoke from several wildfires in Idaho and surrounding states is affecting the air quality for residents in nearly every Idaho community and is expected to continue to do so for the next several days. Public health officials are advising people in the affected areas to limit their time outside as much as possible to reduce their exposure to smoke.

Wildfire smoke has severely reduced air quality across the Panhandle and south to the Clearwater drainages, as well as in southwest and southern Idaho. The Air Quality Index (AQI) for these areas has already reached levels for “Unhealthy,” “Very Unhealthy,” and “Hazardous” categories, and will continue to vary during the next few days. Residents should monitor the air quality when planning outdoor activities.

“Staying indoors is the best way to reduce exposure to smoke,” said Colby Adams, environmental health director for the Department of Health and Welfare. “If you have to be outside, remember that surgical masks, bandanas, and dust masks do not reduce the amount of smoke you breathe. For a respirator to provide protection against small particles in smoke, it must be certified by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and fit with a tight seal around the mouth and nose. Respirators that provide protection from smoke particles also increase resistance to breathing, and their use should be limited to adults who are otherwise healthy. There are no respirators certified for use by children.”

Read the entire news release here