Wildfire smoke advisory Issued in North Idaho

| September 12, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Wildfire smoke from several fires in the region is impacting air quality and has led health officials to urge people to stay inside this weekend.

The Panhandle Health District and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a wildfire smoke advisory Friday for Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Shoshone, and Benewah Counties.

As of Friday evening, air quality was categorized as “moderate” but will deteriorate to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” or “hazardous” as the weekend progresses, PHD said.

"Older adults, pregnant women, children and those with pre-existing respiratory issues or heart disease are often more affected by these conditions," a press release said. "Residents may notice the smell of wildfire smoke and reduced visibility."

Wildfire smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

"Protect your family from the smoke by staying inside," the release said.

This weekend, residents are urged to avoid heavy work or exercise outdoors, limit time outdoors and drink lots of water. They also are urged to seek medical treatment for uncontrolled coughing, wheezing, choking, or if they have difficulty breathing once you move back indoors.

PHD and DEQ will continue to monitor air quality conditions and will issue additional advisories as conditions warrant. For more information and resources regarding air quality or potential health impacts of wildfire smoke, visit panhandlehealthdistrict.org.