Air quality alerts issued for region due to smokey skies from western wildfires |

Air quality alerts issued for region due to smokey skies from western wildfires

Moderate to unhealthy risk for particulates, public health

Garfield County Public Health has issued an air quality health advisories due to the smoke filtering into the region from wildfires burning across the western United States.

Fires in northern California, Oregon and other northwestern states are causing the air to be hazy with smoke settling across much of Colorado Friday and again Saturday. There are no new fires burning in Colorado or Utah, according to the multi-agency website.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued several smoke advisories around the state, including in Pitkin and Garfield counties. The advisories are in effect until 9 a.m. Sunday.

Garfield County Public Health reports real-time air quality readings at, including links links to the Colorado Smoke Outlook web page and other state and national resources.

The county also operates an extensive air monitoring network with two locations that collect data on particulate matter, a primary component of smoke.

“As of August 7, the sites in Battlement Mesa and Rifle are reading levels in the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ and high end of the ‘moderate’ category for particulate matter for the most recent 24-hour average time period,” according to a Saturday news release from county health officials.

The readings are based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) health advisory levels for criteria pollutants, which have set thresholds under the Clean Air Act.

“There are periods of time where PM 2.5 concentrations are reaching levels that are ‘Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups’ in Garfield County currently,” the release states. That means active children and adults, and people with lung disease such as asthma, should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors, according to the alert.

If visibility becomes less than 5 miles, such activity should be avoided, the release states.

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