« Back to News

Air Quality Monitoring for Potential Impacts to Areas of Northern NM

Air Quality Monitoring for Potential Impacts to Areas of Northern NM

Wildfire Smoke May Present Health Hazards for Residents Near Ute Park Fire


SANTA FE, NM – With the Ute Park Fire burning in Colfax County, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) are monitoring air quality in areas of Northern New Mexico affected by smoke from the wildfire, including Cimarron, Eagle Nest, and Raton.


Over the weekend, NMED set up air quality monitors in Raton and Cimarron. A third monitor is being placed in the Eagle Nest-Angel Fire area today by the U.S. Forest Service. The monitors will allow the State to gather information about air quality conditions, assess the most immediate air quality impacts from the wildfire, and help keep the public informed.


Current air quality conditions and data from the monitors can be accessed at Air Now: Air Quality Index and Western Regional Climate Center: Smoke Monitor Archive.


NMDOH encourages New Mexico residents to take precautions to protect their health from the hazards of wildfire smoke. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and intensify chronic heart and lung problems. People with heart and/or lung disease, adults over the age of 65, young children, and pregnant women should minimize outdoor activities during times when the visibility is 5 miles or less.


Your eyes are useful tools to determine if it’s safe to be outside. Even if you smell smoke, the air quality may still be good. Remember: if visibility is over five miles, the air quality is generally good. However, no matter how far you can see, if you are having health effects from smoke exposure then take extra care to stay inside or get to an area with better air quality. You should also see your doctor or healthcare professional as needed.


To learn how to use 5-3-1 Visibility Method to assess the air quality, and for more information on how to protect your health from smoke, visit the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking website. Find additional wildfire and smoke resources on the NMED Air Quality Bureau website.

For up-to-date information on the Ute Park Fire, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5820/ and http://nmfireinfo.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.


# # #