Health agencies issue air quality alert for Puget Sound region due to wildfire smoke

Another bad season for British Columbia fires

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the local health jurisdictions of King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties issued an air quality alert this week.

Air pollution is increasing due to wildfire smoke (from British Columbia, Central Washington) and may cause health problems.

Currently, the air quality has reached levels that are unhealthy for everyone in the Puget Sound region. Although we could have some clearing tonight, with so much smoke around it will likely linger through Thursday. The outlook for early next week shows smoke could return.

The B.C. Canada government declared a state of emergency Wednesday due to wildfires, according to wasmoke.blogspot.com. Approximately 566 wildfires are burning in B.C, with 29 evacuation orders affecting approximately 3,050 people. An additional 18,720 people are under evacuation alert. This is the second year in a row our neighbors to the north have been inundated with fire and smoke and some of that smoke has been heading south to Washington and beyond.

Check the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website for the most recent conditions.

Health problems

Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems:

• Asthma attack

• Trouble breathing

• Coughing

• Stinging eyes

• Irritated sinuses

• Headaches

• Chest pain

• Fast heartbeat

Precautions to take

Everyone should take precautions, especially children, older adults, and people that are pregnant, have heart or lung issues (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD), or that have had a stroke:

• Stay indoors when possible.

• Limit your physical activity outdoors, such as running, bicycling, physical labor, and sports.

• Close windows in your home, if possible, and keep the indoor air clean. If you have an airconditioner, use the “recirculation” switch. Use an indoor air filter if available.

• If you do not have an air conditioner, consider finding a public place with clean, air conditioned indoor air like a public library or a community center.

• Avoid driving when possible. If you must drive, keep the windows closed. If you use the car’s fan or air conditioning, make sure the system recirculates air from inside the car;don’t pull air from outside.

• Schools, camps, sports teams, and daycare providers should consider postponing outdoor activities or moving them indoors.

• N95 or N100 rated masks can help protect some people from air pollution. These masks areusually available at hardware and home repair stores. Please check with your doctor to seeif this appropriate for you.

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