Health Dept. warns of smokey air quality

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – Our below-freezing weather is prompting people to fire up those wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, but the flames are doing more than just heating your house.

The Mesa County Health Department issued a health advisory Tuesday, warning residents about the high levels of smoke in the Grand Valley.

Air Quality Specialist Ed Brotsky says the extended thermal inversion—which is responsible for Mesa County’s deep freeze—has caused pollution from wood burning, vehicle exhaust, and other sources to accumulate in the air. The smoke levels should stay high through Jan. 24, if not longer.

If you are sensitive to smoke, the health department recommends limiting your outdoor activity until some smoke has cleared. People at highest risk are those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, young children and the elderly.

Wood burning in fireplaces and older-model woodstoves has been banned within Grand Junction and Fruita city limits, but the health department says it is discouraged anywhere at this time. If you have to burn, Brotsky advises that you use well-seasoned wood and keep fires small and hot to limit smoking.

Burn season is over, which means all open burning –whether agricultural or recreational—is forbidden.

Brotsky says you can also help limit vehicle pollution by carpooling, avoiding idling and unnecessary trips, and taking care of multiple errands in one trip.

For up-to-date air quality reports, click the links below under Related Links.

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