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ABQ issues air-quality alert

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Albuquerque is urging people with health problems to stay indoors through 1 p.m. this afternoon because of the smokey haze that’s settled over the city.

The city didn’t say what caused the smoke, but it’s expected to dissipate later this morning or afternoon.

People with heart or lung diseases should avoid outdoor activities. Everyone else should limit their outdoor activities, the city says.

I’ll post an update later if the city pinpoints the source of the smoke.


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10:24 a.m.

The National Weather Service suggests dust is contributing to the haze.

11:57 a.m.

The city of Albuquerque’s forecaster says city data indicate “elevated readings of smoke,” though dust may  be a contributing factor, as well.

“Due to the variable winds we cannot say for sure which fire is causing the smoke,” city meteorologist Jeff Stonesifer said in an email to me.

“The Environmental Health Department did speak with the National Weather Service (NWS) about its opinion that dust is the cause of the haze. While dust may be contributing to the haze,  Albuquerque Environmental Health Department monitoring data indicate elevated readings of smoke, which is the best information staff scientists have to determine the cause of the haze in the Albuquerque / Bernalillo County area.”


The full city release is posted below:



Issue time:  Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 9:45 AM


The Environmental Health Department’s Air Quality Division is issuing a health alert due to smoke causing elevated levels of particulate matter. This notice is in effect for the following period:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 9:45 AM


Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Fine particulate monitors indicate the haze over Albuquerque this morning is smoke. With plentiful sunshine today, the haze will gradually dissipate during the late morning and early afternoon hours. During these conditions, sensitive groups such as people with heart and/or lung disease, adults over age 65, young children, and pregnant women should avoid all outdoor activities.  Everyone else should minimize outdoor activities.


Your eyes are your best 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:

  • 11 miles and up, the air quality is Good;
  • 6 to 10 miles, the air quality is Moderate;
  • 3 to 5 miles, the air quality is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups;
  • 1 ½  to 2 ¾ miles; the air quality is Unhealthy;
  • 1 to 1 ¼ quarter miles, the air quality is Very Unhealthy;
  • 1 mile or less, the air quality is Hazardous.

During unhealthy periods, the following actions are recommended, especially for individuals sensitive to particulate pollution:

  • Keep windows and doors closed. If needed for comfort, use air conditioners or heating systems on recycle/recirculation mode.  Avoid using swamp coolers that can circulate outdoor air inside.
  • If symptoms of heart or lung disease occur, (including severe coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest pain, or unusual fatigue) contact your health care provider.
  • Individuals with heart or lung disease should follow their health management plant from their health care provider.  Asthmatic individuals should follow a prescribed asthma management plan.
  • Avoid outdoor exercise