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Health Alert regarding the Trafalgar Road Fire
The Arkansas Department of Health learned today of preliminary results of particulate matter (PM) monitoring conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of air in the ½ mile radius around the 8000 block of Trafalgar Road in Bella Vista. One of these readings has shown that air quality for particle pollution is in the “Unhealthy” category.
Based on this category, everyone who is within a ½ mile radius of the 8000 block of Trafalgar Rd. should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. Examples of exertion are running, playing or yardwork. In particular, those who suffer from breathing issues or lung diseases [such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)]; those with heart disease; pregnant women; infants and young children; teenagers; and older adults can be more sensitive to the particulate matter in the air.
The EPA has developed a guide to help people make informed decisions on outdoor activity related to all PM levels. The Air Quality Guide for Particle Pollution can be found here. Additionally, in the surrounding area, conditions change depending on weather and wind direction. Breathing in smoke may cause eye and respiratory tract (throat, chest and nose) discomfort and irritation.
Whenever it is possible, sensitive individuals should consider spending less time in the area when they can see smoke in the air. When smoke or strong odors are present, people in the area may protect themselves by taking the following actions:
- If it looks smoky outside, it is a good idea to limit exertion (running, yardwork, playing) during outside activity.
- If you have asthma or other lung diseases, you should follow your doctor’s directions or asthma management plan.
- Run your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system and keep your air filter clean.
- If you have heart or lung disease, if you are an older adult, or if you have a child, talk with your doctor about whether or when you should leave the area.
The EPA will continue to conduct air PM monitoring near the Trafalgar Road fire in Bella Vista, AR, this week. Once data are collected and validated, the EPA will share the data with the ADH. ADH will use these data to evaluate any potential risk to public health and the community and will provide regular updates as we receive more information.
PM monitoring measures the amount of solid and liquid droplets found in the air such as ash, dust, and smoke. The amount of PM in the air provides a snapshot of local air quality and how air quality may affect health. Several types of PM are collected based on size in micrometers. For example, there are PM2.5 for small particles and PM10 for large particles. PM in the air is highly variable based on the source of the particulates, weather conditions, the location of the monitor, and activity near the monitor. The EPA translates PM data from monitors around the United States into the Air Quality Index (AQI), and current AQI conditions for Arkansas can be found on the AirNow website.
ADH is aware of an additional community monitoring system called PurpleAir tracking the outdoor PM at a location near the Trafalgar Road Fire site. ADH recognizes this monitoring may be a useful tool for detecting the presence of particulates in the outdoor air. The PurpleAir website displaying PM readings can be found here. Citizen-collected data can provide valuable information in support of more rigorous PM2.5 ambient air assessment. ADH will review the EPA-validated data that would be representative of ambient air quality and residential exposures. Research shows the monitoring equipment used in citizen-collected data is sensitive to temperature and humidity, which may show higher readings due to water droplets mixed with particles.