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Resources for Reducing Exposure to Wildfire Smoke
With dozens of wildfires burning across the west, a smoke plume covers nearly the entire United States. Breathing in wildfire smoke has both short-term and long-term health impacts, so it's important to take steps to reduce your exposure.

Outdoor workers, especially those working in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries, often cannot move work indoors to avoid smoke. Use the resources below to implement a plan to protect you, your employees, and your family from wildfire smoke.
Video: What Agricultural Producers Need to Know About Wildfire Smoke
Where can I find air quality information?
Use to monitor the Air Quality Index (AQI) for your location. Your state department of health or environmental regulation agency should also track and report air quality. Colorado and Montana provide smoke outlook reports.
When do I need to take action?
The air is considered unhealthy when the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches 151. People with conditions like asthma or diabetes should take action sooner, when the AQI is between 101-150. There may be not an AQI monitor near you. If this is the case, take action when visibility is reduced to 5 miles.
What if I can't go inside?
Limit outdoor activity as much as possible. Wear an Woman wearing and N95 respirator on the farm.N95 respirator to filter the air you breathe and reduce the number of smoke particles you breathe in. Surgical masks, bandanas, and other cloth face coverings do not provide sufficient protection as they do not filter the air you breathe in.

Take more frequent breaks. Take breaks in enclosed buildings or structures (including vehicles) where the air is filtered and windows, doors, and all other openings are closed. 
What should I do for my employees?
  1. Make N95s available for your employees to wear voluntarily.
  2. For those who are especially high risk (older, pregnant, have heart/lung conditions or diabetes), consider ways to alter their tasks so they can be indoors.
  3. Train your employees on how to monitor air quality and how to wear an N95. Use this training video. (English only, Spanish coming soon.)
There's a shortage of N95s. What should I do?
Contact your county emergency manager and local ag commissioner to see if they have personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiled.

You can utilize a full-facepiece or half-facepiece respirator with a particulate cartridge or pre-filter. If you do, you will need to update your respiratory protection program documents. See this video from OSHA about the voluntary use of respirators.
Is a wildfire smoke protection plan legally required?
California is the only state with requirements for ag employers to protect their employees from wildfire smoke. The Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety has resources to help California growers comply with this regulation.

If you provide N95s for voluntary use: all operations subject to OSHA regulations need to comply with voluntary respirator use provisions in the Respiratory Protection Standard. You must provide each employee a copy of Appendix D. See pages 14-15 of this compliance guide for more information on what is required.
Find additional state-specific wildfire information and other worker
health and safety resources on the HICAHS website.
Additional Resources
The High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety is located at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. CDC/NIOSH Funding: U54 OH008085
Copyright © 2020 High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety, All rights reserved.

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