Health Alert: Dangerous Air Quality Levels in NC

This week, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued an Air Quality Alert due to dangerous air quality levels caused by wildfires in Western North Carolina. We are urging everyone to take immediate precautions to protect their health.

Health Concerns

Exposure to elevated levels of PM2.5 can have serious health effects, particularly for individuals in sensitive groups, including children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory or heart conditions. Short-term exposure to dangerous air quality levels can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, while long-term exposure may cause more serious health problems.

aq alert map
Precautionary Measures 

To safeguard your health and the health of your loved ones, follow these recommendations:

  1. Stay Indoors: Remain indoors as much as possible, keeping windows and doors closed to reduce indoor exposure to smoke. If you have an air purifier, use it to help improve indoor air quality. Please be sure your air purifier is HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) approved. 
  2. Limit Outdoor Activities: Avoid outdoor activities, including exercise, especially if you are in a sensitive group.
  3. Wear N95 Masks: If you need to be outdoors, wear a properly fitted N95 or higher-rated mask to reduce exposure to particulate matter.
  4. Create a Clean Room: Designate a room in your home as a “clean room” by sealing gaps around windows and doors and using a portable HEPA air purifier if available.
  5. Check AQI Regularly: Stay informed about air quality by monitoring the Air Quality Index (AQI) for your area through local news, websites, or apps.
  6. Seek Medical Advice: If you experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain, especially if you are in a sensitive group, seek medical attention.
Stay Informed

For real-time updates on air quality and wildfire status, visit the NCDEQ Air Quality Portal or check your local PurpleAir Sensor via the PurpleAir map on our Community Science page.

We understand that these conditions can be challenging, but it is essential to prioritize your health during this period of elevated air pollution. Please share this alert with family, friends, and neighbors to ensure their well-being as well.

Our thoughts are with those directly affected by the wildfires, and we are here to help in safeguarding public health.