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NJ Department of Health Issues Guidance to Protect Health on Poor Air Quality Days

Late last week, the New Jersey Department of Health issued guidance on how to protect yourself and your household from the poor air quality that can result from the presence of particulate matter due to wildfires.

  • Sensitive populations including the elderly; infants and young children; and people with lung diseases such as asthma, COPD, emphysema, or chronic bronchitis should remain indoors.
    • Individuals with asthma: Poor air quality may trigger asthma attacks.
    • Individuals with respiratory diseases: Follow physician’s recommendations and respiratory management plan.
  • People in general should avoid strenuous activities and limit the amount of time they are active outdoors. • For people who work outdoors or need to be outside:
    • Take more breaks indoors if possible
    • Shorten the length and intensity of any physical activity
  • The most effective way to prevent breathing harmful particles from wildfire smoke is to stay indoors with windows and doors closed.
  • If an air conditioner is available, run it while keeping the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
  • When outdoor air quality is poor, do not use candles and fireplaces which could add to indoor air pollution. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke tobacco or other products, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
  • Do not rely on dust masks for protection. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke. People who must be outside can have some protection from an N95 mask if worn properly.

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