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California wildfire smoke prompts Clark County air quality alert

Posted at 4:48 PM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-07 22:14:47-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Waking up in Las Vegas on Saturday morning, most could tell this wasn't your ordinary overcast day. Wildfire smoke from fires in California had Clark County issuing an air quality alert.

The wildfire smoke blanketed the sky over the valley.

“You look around outside and obviously you can’t see the mountains in any direction, and we want to keep people informed on what’s going on with the air we share,” said Public Information Administrator with Clark County Department of Environment & Sustainability Kevin MacDonald.

Officials with Clark County say there’s an unhealthy amount of smoke coming in from wildfires hundreds of miles away in northern and central California and it's happening more often.

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“Three of the past four years, our summers have been plagued by wildfire smoke that comes in not just from California, but Northern Nevada, Arizona,” MacDonald said.

The county has monitoring stations all over the valley measuring air quality. It's been a while since we had our last air quality alert.

“The last time we had exceedance of that was January 3, and that was for fireworks smoke,” MacDonald said.

Dr. Daliah Wachs, a certified family physician, says this would be a time for people, especially those who have difficulty breathing or asthma should stay inside.

She says what makes up the smoke can be a cause for concern.

“Wildfire smoke carries with it not just the tree that burned out, but the sap and depending on the tree and the leaves and the houses. What got burned in the houses, the plastics,” she said.

Breathing in this smoke can damage our lungs causing chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath, even throat irritation.

“Pollution irritates the lungs. So, if you have lung irritation, that allows you to be more vulnerable to lung illnesses whether it’s from COVID-19, pneumonia, or anything else,” Dr. Wachs said.

County officials say they’re aiming to provide the best information for people to make the best choices for their health.

If you look in every direction, and you can’t even see the mountains, that’s a pretty good indicator so that’s a pretty good indicator with the air quality we’re dealing with today,” MacDonald said.

So, what can you do at home? Keep windows and doors closed. Officials also recommend running your a/c to filter out the air and change your air filters if they are dirty.