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EPA Region 10 Calls Outdoor Burn Ban for Four Indian Reservations in ID, OR and WA

Release Date: 09/08/2006
Contact Information: Keith Rose, (206)553-1949/ rose.keith@epa.gov Bill Puckett, (206) 553-1702/ puckett.william@epa.gov

(Seattle, Washington – September 8, 2006) Several forest fires are burning today across Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon and much of Idaho. Smoke from these fires has resulted in some areas experiencing fine particulate levels in the "unhealthful for sensitive groups" category. As the result of continued forest fires and possible new fire starts today due to dry thunderstorms, EPA is imposing an outdoor burn ban for the following reservations:

Idaho
Fort Hall Indian Reservation

Oregon
Umatilla Indian Reservation

Washington
Colville Indian Reservation
Kalispel Indian Reservation

Very hot dry weather along with light winds will continue in these areas today resulting in air quality in the moderate to "unhealthful for sensitive groups" categories in areas impacted by smoke.

Other Indian Reservations east of the Cascades not covered by these burn bans will still likely experience some impacts from forest fires and could experience fine particulate levels in the moderate category.

Conditions are expected to improve some on Saturday due to an approaching frontal system currently along the Oregon and Washington coast. This system will result in cooler temperatures and could bring some light shower activity to the Region by Saturday. Increasing winds should result in some improvement to air quality, but little abatement of the forest fires is expected.

Health Statement

    The wildfires burning in the region are causing significant degradation in air quality in many areas. As a result, EPA Region 10 is advising people in Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, and Idaho to take precautions to protect themselves from poor air quality and smoke from wildfires. If you are sensitive to air pollution, you should limit time spent outdoors. Air pollution can trigger asthma attacks, cause difficulty breathing and make lung and heart problems worse.

    Air pollution is especially harmful to people with heart and lung problems, children, and adults over 65 years old. People with lung or heart conditions may demonstrate symptoms of distress earlier than people who don't. Symptoms can include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, pain in the left arm or jaw, sudden overwhelming fatigue, and rapid heart beat. Contact your health care provider if you have these symptoms. Call 911 if you cannot reach your provider.

    Steps to take when air quality is unhealthy:
    o Stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed.
    o Avoid strenuous outdoor activity and physical exertion. This includes keeping children from playing outdoors during smoky periods.
    o Asthma sufferers or those who suffer from other respiratory problems should follow their asthma or breathing management plan or contact your health provider.
    o Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid those areas with highest concentrations.
    o Use the recycle or recirculate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
    o Some room air cleaners, such as HEPA filters, can help reduce smoke indoors if they are the right size for your home and if the filters are kept clean.
    o If you have a lung and/or heart condition, be sure to keep at least a five-day supply of medication on hand.
    o Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water. Breathing through a warm, wet washcloth can also help relieve dryness.
    o It's important to know that paper "dust" masks, commonly found at hardware stores, are ineffective against smoke particles. A fitted mask (select those designated OSHA N95) can be used to reduce smoke exposure unless it interferes with breathing.

    What You Can Do
      o Individuals can help reduce air pollution by reducing their motor vehicle trips and by reducing vehicle idling, especially when air quality is impaired.
        o Any outdoor burning should be stopped until air quality improves.
      This statement will be updated Monday, September 11, 2006.

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