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Wildfire Smoke

Air quality impacts of wildfire smoke
The primary air pollutant in smoke is particulate matter. When particulate matter concentrations rise to levels that may be unhealthy, you may need to take steps to reduce your exposure. There are several ways to check air pollution levels in Eagle County:

  • View real-time air quality data. Residents and visitors in the Eagle River Valley can find local real-time air quality readings by viewing www.fire.airnow.gov or www.purpleair.com. (To get the most accurate Purple Air readings: in the bottom left-hand corner of the map screen, select the LRAPA under "Conversion" and use the one hour average.) This sensor is a snapshot of air quality at a fixed location. Remember that air quality can change quickly depending on your location, winds, and fire activity.
  • Know the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is a color-coded system that gives recommendations based on air pollution levels.
  • Look outside. If you can't see a landmark that's 5 miles away, smoke may have reached levels that are unhealthy. In Eagle or Gypsum, Hardscrabble Mountain is a good landmark. From downtown Vail, the iconic peaks of the Gore Range are about 8 miles away.
  • Feel it out. If you're exercising outdoors and it's making you feel unwell, stop the activity or reduce your intensity. If you smell smoke, there is smoke. Some people may be more sensitive to smoke in the air, even if the monitor indicates the air quality is good or moderate.
What are potential symptoms of exposure to wildfire smoke?
Mild symptoms may include eye, nose and/or throat irritation, coughing, and a sore throat. More serious symptoms include trouble breathing or tightness of the chest, which may be signs of a health emergency.

If symptoms persist or are severe, contact your primary health care provider. If you have been evacuated, medical assistance will be available at the designated shelters.

How does wildfire smoke affect COVID-19?
Wildfire smoke may make you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, preparing for wildfires might be a little different in 2021. Know how wildfire smoke can affect you and your loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do to protect yourselves. Visit the Center for Disease Control's website for more information.

Preventing exposure to smoke
  • If you smell smoke and/or are beginning to experience symptoms, close windows and doors and stay indoors. However, do not close up your home tightly if it makes it dangerously warm inside. If you have any room air filtration units, use them.
  • Run the air conditioning, the fan feature on your HVAC system, or your evaporative cooler. Keep the outdoor air intake closed. Only do this if filters are installed and clean. Running these appliances if they are not filtered can make indoor smoke worse.
  • Consider temporarily locating to another area as long as it is safe for you to do so. Seek out locations where air is filtered.
  • When smoke becomes thick, reduce your physical activity level. Avoid exercise or other strenuous activities in heavy smoke.
  • Give extra attention to the actions that help keep a person healthy at any time. Make healthy eating choices, drink plenty of water, get good sleep, and exercise in cleaner air.
  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, vacuuming, candles and other sources of additional indoor air pollution.
  • Wear a fitted N95 mask. Commercially available dust masks may seem like a good idea, but they do almost nothing to filter out the particles and gasses in smoke.
  • Smoke often settles in the valleys at night when the air is calm. Consider airing out your home during the early or middle of the afternoon when smoke tends to be more diluted.
Indoor Air

Radon
Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that forms from the decay of uranium in the soil. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking. Radon can seep into buildings and become concentrated, especially during the winter months when doors and windows are closed. Nearly half of the homes in Eagle County have high levels.

Radon is odorless and colorless, so the only way to know if your home has elevated levels is to test. Eagle County is giving out free test kits in partnership with Walking Mountains Science Center and Shaw Cancer Center. Test kits are available at the following locations:

  • Walking Mountains Science Center – 318 Walking Mountains Ln, Avon
  • Eagle County Environmental Health Desk – 500 Broadway St, Eagle
  • El Jebel Community Center – 20 Eagle County Rd, El Jebel
  • If you are unable to pick up a test kit at any of these locations, please contact us at (970) 328-8755 to talk about your options for receiving a kit.
Check out this video from Boulder County Public Health for more information, or reference the links below:
Asbestos
Asbestos is commonly used as an acoustic insulator, in thermal insulation, fire proofing and other building materials. Asbestos is made up of microscopic bundles of fibers that may become airborne when disturbed. These fibers get into the air and may become inhaled into the lungs, where they may cause significant health problems. Remodeling, Renovating or Demolishing may require an inspection for asbestos.
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. Improperly vented furnaces, boilers and water heaters are a common source of indoor carbon monoxide problems. If appliances that burn fuel are maintained and used properly, exposure to CO can be avoided. Carbon monoxide detectors are also critical to alert building occupants of elevated levels of this potentially deadly compound.

Lead
Old lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in the U.S. today. The dust and chips from lead-based paint are dangerous when swallowed or inhaled, putting children especially at-risk. A home built before 1978 is likely to have surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
Mold
For some people, mold exposure can cause a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing or wheezing, burning eyes, or skin rash. When moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth can occur. Controlling moisture is the best way to control indoor mold growth.

Environmental Health does not perform inspections for private residences or commercial buildings for mold or air quality.
Eagle County Local Air Quality Regulations

Wood burning stoves
Eagle County's Wood Burning Regulations in the Eagle County Land Use Code became effective February 1, 1992. The regulations are focused on limiting the number of wood burning devices in new construction based on zone district densities. Dwellings are limited to one new technology wood burning device per unit in most zone districts. A new technology device is one which has undergone an EPA test demonstrating that the emissions meet or exceed those which are required to obtain wood stove certification.

Upgrading from an existing wood burning unit saves you money in the long run while improving air quality. Check out the list of EPA Certified Wood Stoves and Air Emissions Requirements for New Residential Wood Heaters

Learn how to reduce emissions from your wood burning stove with EPA’s Burn Wise program.

Open Burning
An Open Burning Permit is required in order to burn rubbish, waste paper, wood, or other flammable material on any open premises, or on any public street, alley, or other land adjacent to such premises according to CDPHE Regulations. Open burning permits are issued by the Wildfire Mitigation Office and can be obtained by contacting Eric Lovgren at 970-328-8742.

Eagle County’s Smoking Ordinance
Eagle County's smoking ordinance furthers prevention of premature deaths and illnesses from secondhand smoke by making all public places and workplaces smoke-free. This includes restaurants, bars, and 90 percent of hotel rooms smoke-free. Additionally, outdoor areas including lift lines, chairlifts, gondolas and recreation areas are smoke-free. Secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 53,000 deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the U.S.

Since March 2006, smoking has been prohibited in public places, places of employment, service lines, recreational facilities and outdoor seating areas. The ordinance is in effect for unincorporated Eagle County and the town of Avon.

Tobacco Licensing and Regulations

Applying for a NEW TOBACCO LICENSE:
Please submit an application using the following link.

If any questions come up, please contact Maria Gonzalez via email or phone at: (970) 328-2616, maria.gonzalez@eaglecounty.us

*NOTE: This tobacco license information is for retailers in Unincorporated Eagle County (ie: not within a town's limits).

Renewal of TOBACCO LICENSE:
License renewals must be completed before November 1, 2022 . Any application submitted after November 1st will result in a $250.00 late application fee, in addition to the renewal fee. This fee will apply to any application received after November 1st, through November 31st.
If a business fails to submit a renewal application and continues to conduct business after November 31st, an unlicensed sale penalty will be applied.

To avoid additional fees and penalties, please renew your application before November 1, 2022. Submit a renewal by using this link.

State License Application:
In order to be fully compliant with tobacco licensing, it is required that a business holds a state license ALONG with a local license. State licenses expire simultaneously with a local license. There are penalties for operating without an active license.

To renew a state license, please follow these steps in this link: https://sbg.colorado.gov/apply-for-a-tobacco-license-or-permit
Please review the rules and regulations that apply to state tobacco licenses.

Payment options:
All checks need to be made to: Eagle County Public Health and Environment

Checks can be dropped off in person at the Public Health Office front desk or at the drop off box located in the entrance of the Public Health Office. Checks can also be mailed at the following address:
Eagle County Public Health and Environment
Attn: Maria Gonzalez
P.O. Box 660
Eagle, CO 81631
Credit card payments can be made using the following link: https://client.pointandpay.net/web/eaglecoenvhealth

Tobacco Taxes:
To file online please visit the online filing portal at: HTTPS://EAGLECO.HDLGOV.COM. Payments can be made by electronic check or by credit card.
For assistance with registering or filing your tax returns, please contact HDL support by email at eagleco@hdlcompanies.com or by phone at (970) 900-6776.

Helpful Links:

Secure Transportation Licensing & Permits
On December 20, 2022, the Regulations for Secure Transportation Services were adopted by the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners.
The purpose of these Regulations is to set forth the requirements for the inspection, licensure and operation of secure transportation services for individuals experiencing behavioral health crises, in order to ensure high-quality behavioral health transportation within Eagle County.
For more information please call 970-328-7706 or email securetransport@eaglecounty.us
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