Wildfire smoke and your health

Idaho fires from space
Idaho wildfires from space, photographed in 2007 from the International Space Station. NASA photo.

Wildfires are burning throughout Idaho, Oregon and Washington which has resulted in unhealthy air quality across the West due to the wildfire smoke. The following sources provide information on air quality and Idaho wildfire smoke information available to the public:

The following visual smoke observation table is an easy way to evaluate air quality conditions, identify potential health effects, as well as decide your outdoor activities for the day.  The table does indicate that it should not be used when relative humidity is above 65%.


Visibility Range Health Category Health Effects*
10+ miles Good None
6 -10 miles Moderate Usually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.
3 – 6 miles Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Sensitive people should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
1½ – 3 miles Unhealthy Sensitive people should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged heavy exertion.
1 – 1½ miles Very Unhealthy Sensitive people should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.
1 mile or less Hazardous Sensitive people should remain indoors and keep activity levels low. Everyone else should avoid all physical activity outdoors.

Acknowledgement: Visibility ranges adapted from data compiled by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and US Forest Service. Health categories and effects established by EPA.

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