Fulfilling its mission to protect public health and the environment, ADEQ supports wildfire suppression and recovery efforts in Arizona.
- Emergency Response: ADEQ assists the local incident commander in handling hazardous material and pollutant releases to air, water and soil caused by wildfires.
- Air Quality Monitoring: ADEQ monitors air quality in areas affected by the smoke plume and reports air quality status to state, county and local health officials for their use in issuing health advisories.
- Technical Assistance and Expertise: ADEQ advises federal, state and local on-scene responders on safe handling and disposal procedures for hazardous materials.
- Inspections and Assessments: ADEQ inspects and assesses damage to underground fuel storage tanks, public water and wastewater systems and provides guidance to homeowners on how to check and test their wells to ensure safe drinking water.
- Restoration and Recovery: ADEQ assists residents and communities recover from the damages after a fire by ensuring clean and safe drinking water, monitoring water quality in affected streams, preparing grant assistance for revegetation efforts on private lands and working with local governments to facilitate removal of burned trees and debris.
Air Quality and Wildfire Smoke
The following is some general information regarding the potential health effects of air pollution from wildfire smoke.
Particulate matter is a component of smoke from wildfires and consists of fine particles including soot and ash that can reach deep into the lungs and may contain irritating and toxic compounds.
Some of the symptoms related to exposure to smoke from wildfires include:
- Eye, nose, mouth and/or throat irritation;
- Trouble breathing;
- Tightness of the chest; and/or
- The onset of symptoms related to pre-existing respiratory ailments like asthma or emphysema.
If smoke from wildfires is affecting you and your family consider some of the following actions:
- If you smell smoke and/or are beginning to experience symptoms, consider temporarily locating to another area as long as it is safe for you to do so.
- Move indoors and stay there with doors and windows closed.
- Run the air conditioning, the fan feature on your home heating system with the heat turned off. The filtration systems on home systems can provide some benefit.
- Run room air filtration units.
- Reduce your physical activity level. Do not exercise.
If symptoms persist or become more severe, please contact your primary health care provider - even persons considered healthy can experience symptoms when exposed to smoke from wildfires!
There are a few population groups considered especially at risk from exposure to smoke from wildfires.
- Elderly persons;
- Young children (especially children 7 and under);
- Individuals with pre-existing health conditions like asthma, emphysema, and cardiovascular disease; and
- Individuals with respiratory infections like colds or flu.
An excellent reference on wildland fire smoke health effects was developed by the Arizona Department of Health Services and ADEQ in 2006.
Arizona Fire Weather Forecasts