Monterey Peninsula, Salinas region ‘unhealthy’ air quality is cause for concern – Monterey Herald

Monterey – Wind has been in the “unhealthy” range for the past few days in the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas regions due to wildfires spreading to the forests on the coast and feeling many symptoms including headaches, sore throats and respiratory problems Can occur.

But local medical officials say there are things to consider and take action to determine if medical attention is needed.

Jeremy Hadland, RN, emergency department manager for the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, said most people exposed to smoke in the early days of the River and Carmel fires have increased their search for medical treatment for respiratory problems.

But the Dolan Fire near Big Sur, among other fires around California, is contributing to the continued fluctuations in air quality throughout the region and many air monitoring stations in Monterrey County have been “unhealthy” due to the fog of fumes in recent times “Have reached the level.

Over the next few days, south / southwest winds will move north toward the Monterrey Peninsula and Salinas areas, the Dolan Fire Smoke, said event commander Robert Allen with the US Forest Service.

“We have seen only a small increase in respiratory problems at the Monterrey Peninsula’s Community Hospital,” said Dr. Casey Grover, Community Hospital, Medical Director of the Monterey Peninsula Emergency Department. “When the River Fire was active and we selected our emergency physicians and nurses, it was estimated that around 20 to 30 patients were seen due to issues with smoke during the River Fire. Please note that this is a very informal guess. ”

An “unhealthy” level of air quality refers to the amount of particulate matter in the air. It is a complex mixture that may contain soot, smoke, metals, nitrates, sulfates, dust water, and tire rubber. Small particles, known as PM2.5 or fine particles, pose the biggest problem because they circumvent the body’s natural defenses and can reach deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream.

The smoke emitted from the wildfire contains chemicals, gases and fine particles that can harm health. Inhalation in PM2.5 may decrease lung function, worsen asthma and other existing heart and lung conditions, and may cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

“People present with common complaints … difficulty breathing, chest tightness. When hard work starts figuring out what causes it,” Hadland said.

Those symptoms are the same as what causes coronovirus when it attacks, and an epidemic-fatigued public may first think the disease has infected them.

Grover said, “Yes, we have asked many people the question of what to do if you feel shortness of breath after exposure to smokey air during a coronovirus epidemic.” “People are very concerned that they may not be able to tell the difference between symptoms of COVID and the risk of smoking.”

Emergency rooms try to get to the bottom of the issue to determine whether it is of infectious origin, with COVID-19 being at the forefront in particular, or smoking risk, or a myriad of other possibilities.

“Smoke is disturbing the lungs. People who have pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma or emphysema will have an exacerbation of these conditions, which may include cough, difficulty breathing or wheezing, ”Grover said. “For those who do not have a pre-existing lung condition, smoke is irritating and may cause cough, difficulty breathing, or wheezing.”

People may ask themselves if they have been exposed to smoking, if they have smelled it, or if they have gone out in poor air quality.

For COVID, people can ask themselves if they have any exposure, if they are sheltering in place, or working from home. Without known exposure and not likely to stay at home, COVID is unlikely, but health care professionals emphasized that seeking medical attention to know what is going on or if symptoms worsen. Is a good idea.

“It is important through all of this that we use masking, social disturbances, and hand cleaning to make sure that we reduce our risk of COVID,” Grover said.

But there is also a straight line between “unhealthy” air and cornovirus. Prolonged exposure to air pollution is known to damage lung function, as well as cause many other negative health effects. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, scientists hope that pollution will make people more susceptible to catching the disease, and then its consequences will worsen.

“For anyone, once they are exposed to unhealthy air, the best thing to do is to go back to clean air,” Grover. “For example, a person who works outside and has symptoms of cough or difficulty breathing should work as much as possible inside. People can also look at the air quality index and if it is in the unhealthy range, exposure to outside air should be avoided. ”

Hadland said for Healthy, young individuals who experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea or a sore throat are associated with exposure to smoke, getting in and away from the smoke, in a day or two from those symptoms. Should be relieved.

But people with lung or heart conditions may require more treatment than just venting out of unhealthy air.

The Monterey Bay Air Resources District suggests that people in at-risk groups, including those with heart or lung disease, older adults, or people with children, should consult a doctor in advance whether to leave an area or have a better location Have to go on indoor air quality.

The Air Resources District reported that a low pressure reservoir will keep the sea layer around this week, and the smoke layer closer to the ground. It expects to continue district-wide “unhealthy” air quality “unhealthy for sensitive groups” over the next few days.

See the Monterey Bay Air Resource District ( website for the Air Quality Index, and visit Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare Systems ( and Community Hospital for more. Monterey Peninsula ( for information.

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