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(Photo: Las Vegas Sun)
Michael Crandall, senior vice president, Siegel Group
Russell Roberts, Clark County Air Quality specialist
Smoke wafting from the Carpenter Canyon forest fire has degraded Las Vegas air to an unhealthful level, according to an air quality alert issued Wednesday by the Clark County Department of Air Quality.
Russell Roberts, a principal air quality specialist with the county, has tips for staying healthy:
Which groups are most vulnerable?
The groups that you would expect – very young people who have developing respiratory systems, people that have pre-existing respiratory problems – asthma emphysema, heart disease – and the very old who are susceptible to changes in pollution level in terms of the effects it has on them. Sensitive individuals and folks with respiratory issues tend to be affected more so than younger healthy individuals.
What is in the air that makes it hazardous?
Very very fine particulates, that solid matter that’s so small that you can’t see it and the reason it’s an issue from a health perspective is you can respire that deep into your lungs. It can interfere with the functioning of your lungs, and it’s the kind of thing that increases the onset of asthma attacks – fine particulates in the air.
What is the risk for healthy people? What can be done to minimize the risk?
Essentially we’ve encouraged people to try to stay indoors to try and stay out of it, even healthy people. Your lungs are designed to breathe air. If you breathe air that has dirt in it, it’s not good for you. It reduces the amount of oxygen you get in your body, so there’s a negative impact to everybody whether they notice it or not. The basic thing is just to be aware of it. Try to minimize your outdoor activities if you’re an athlete, or if you like to exercise. Days like yesterday would be a good day to do that in a gym or indoors or someplace out of the environment so to speak.
If you have to be out in it, we’ve encouraged people to consider purchasing a high-efficiency mask. A painter’s mask doesn’t work really well but what we call a HEPA filter is fine enough that it can filter out those fine particulates – you can buy those at any place you can buy a painter’s mask.
Meanwhile, only a handful of commercial businesses operate on Mount Charleston, but they've all taken a hit from the Carpenter 1 Fire. A mandatory evacuation closed all businesses, including the Resort on Mount Charleston. As fire threatens the resort, we will talk to one of the owners about how the fire has changed their business, and the community.