There are health risks associated with the smoke and ash. Particulate matter in the air can exacerbate and cause health problems for those in areas affected by smoke and ash.
Where is most affected?
The lower valley right now is the most affected. Jannette Whitcomb, Aspen’s air quality expert, compares smoke to water, in that it follows drainages. It’s also impacted heavily by wind. There are health advisories in Eagle and Garfield Counties connected to smoke, and while Pitkin County’s air quality is impacted, it’s not as severe. Air quality advisories are updated every 24 hours, or more frequently if conditions are changing rapidly. Low visibility, especially when less than a mile, means that smoke will impact health.
How might this impact someone’s health?
It can become more difficult to breathe and cause headaches and eye irritation. People with cardiac or respiratory conditions are most susceptible and smoke can trigger those conditions. Other sensitive groups include elderly people, children and pregnant women. Smoke has small particulate matter, pm 2.5, that can pass into the bloodstream and cause health concerns.
How can people limit impacts?
The first step is to limit exposure by closing windows and doors, as well as avoiding exercising in these conditions. HEPA air purification systems are also an option, and it may be possible to add a filter to an air conditioner.