The Air Pollution Control Bureau Advises Protective Measures for Anyone in the Hwy 58 and Hickory Valley Road Area.
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN – October 28, 2023 – The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau offers residents and visitors suggestions to protect themselves against the ongoing mulch fire. Fire smoke is a complex mixture of gases and microscopic fine particles that can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs, and they can aggravate preexisting health conditions. The following sensitive populations should limit their outdoor activities in that area:
- People with preexisting conditions such as respiratory infections, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and those who have had a previous heart attack or stroke.
- Infants and young children (especially 7 years or younger) – Children breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults and are more active outside.
- Older adults (over 65 years) – An elderly person’s lungs are not as efficient as they were when they were younger.
Wildfire smoke may have the pleasant odor of campfire smoke, but breathing any smoke is not good for you, especially over a period of time. The mulch fire is expected to continue to pollute the air through at least the end of the week. The following protections apply now and/or in the future:
- Monitor the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau’s (APCB) Air Quality Index and stay alert to official information.
- Avoid the area where the mulch fire is currently happening. Crews are working in the area to continue to turn and spread the mulch. Be aware that areas not directly affected by the fires can still be affected by smoke.
- Plan ahead – Smoke irritation can grow worse over minutes to hours, so while it may not bother you when you first walk outside, the irritation could become worse as you continue to be exposed.
- Stay indoors if possible – Keep indoor air as clean as possible, close windows and doors and run the heat or AC, close the outside air intakes. Use recycled air in your vehicle.
- Avoid making the indoor situation worse by limiting fireplaces, candles, gas stoves, and smoking. Vacuuming also stirs up dust.
- “Dust masks” from hardware stores and bandanas do not provide adequate protection against the fine particles in wildfire smoke. According to the CDC, an “N95” mask, properly worn, will offer some protection. Even when properly fitted and worn correctly, N95 respirators can make breathing more difficult and increase your heart rate, so any use by those with heart or lung disease should be done under your healthcare provider’s supervision.
- The effects on pets and livestock are similar to humans. Consider limiting activity, reducing exposure, and ensuring adequate drinking water. Contact your veterinarian if they are having difficulty breathing.
We will continue to send out updates periodically or if conditions change. Text AIR to (423) 643-5971 to sign up for text notifications or visit our website at apcb.org. We also offer email alerts through our website.