ELKO – Smoky skies still cover northern Nevada and — with the exception of a possible reprieve on the weekend — the gray haze is expected to continue for some time.
“We just need a fresh air mass,” Paul Frisbie, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service in Elko, said. “A cool front coming in may pull us back into the mid 90s for a brief improvement in the haze by Saturday, but it won’t last.”
The smoke is coming from fires that continue to burn in a number of western states, including California and Utah.
“Unfortunately, until the fires are contained, we just have to live with it a while longer,” Frisbie said. “Eventually, we will get our clear skies back.”
Alice Allen, Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital chief nursing officer, said the hospital has seen an increased incidence of asthma and other respiratory cases since the smoke has settled over our area.
She said outdoor activities like mowing the lawn in the smoky air can trigger pre-existing conditions. She also recommends staying inside.
Asthma and Allergy of Nevada office coordinator Lynn Hansen said, “We have seen a lot of people coming in with burning eyes, throat problems and chest tightness due to the smoke.”
Kim Otheim has asthma and reports that the smoke is really beginning to bother her.
“I have restricted airways,” Otheim said. “Plus, I have contacts and they have been clouding over since the smoke came. I have to clean them a couple times a day. My sinuses won’t stop clogging up.”
Another local asthma patient, Nadine Irasema, has also been suffering from the smoke levels.
“I am stuck inside my home having to do nebulizer treatments four times a day and using my inhaler in between those times,” Irasema said. “I can’t do much. I have not been this bad for this long before and I have had asthma for 39 years. I am wheezing all of the time.”
Airnow.gov rated Elko conditions as moderate on Friday morning, citing an air quality index of 52. At this level people suffering from respiratory issues are recommended to reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.
The site also stated that tiny particles called PM 2.5 can irritate the eyes, nose and respiratory system. Long-term exposure can aggravate heart and lung disease.
According to airnow.gov, people with the following conditions are more vulnerable: heart failure; angina; ischemic heart disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; diabetes and asthma. Older people, the very young and pregnant women are also under greater risk.
Most guidelines recommend that people who are extra sensitive to the smoky conditions stay indoors when possible. Other methods to reduce particulate ingestion include purchasing an air cleaner and correctly using an N-95 or P-100 mask available at most hardware stores.