Anchorage Air Quality Affected by Funny River Fire

Smoke from the Kenai Peninsula wildfire drifted into Anchorage and Eagle River this weekend. The Anchorage Municipal air quality hot line reported Monday afternoon that conditions in Anchorage were considered moderate, but for Eagle River residents, the index was 110, which means the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Providence Hospital pulmunologist Dr. Mark Martynowicz said people with sensitive respiratory systems should be cautious about spending time outdoors.

“Those patients who have underlying asthma, in terms of children or among adults, asthma or COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease], emphysema, also those who have significant allergic problems such as allergic rhinitis for example,” he said. “These would be the type of persons that would be at higher risk for complications related to smoke exposure.”

Dr. Martynowicz said limiting exertion in smoky conditions is best for those with respiratory conditions.

He said simple particle masks such as those used for wood sanding will not help guard against smoke.

“This would be more specialized masks such as those used for example in preventing TB exposure or some particulate exposure, viruses for example,” he said. “These would be the kinds of masks that could potentially help patients like that.”

Air quality ratings between 101 and 150 are unhealthy for vulnerable people.

Lori Townsend is the news director and senior host for Alaska Public Media. You can send her news tips and program ideas for Talk of Alaska and Alaska Insight at or call 907-550-8452.

Previous articleCrews Fighting to Keep Funny River Fire Away from Homes
Next articleAlaska News Nightly: May 26, 2014