Air quality now unhealthy for everyone, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency says

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The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the local health jurisdictions of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties issues a new air quality alert Wednesday stating that wildfire smoke-related air pollution is now unhealthy for everyone.

The agency earlier this week stated the air quality resulting from the fires was a problem for “sensitive groups,” which includes older adults, and people that are pregnant, have heart or lung issues (such as asthma and COPD), or that have had a stroke.

“Currently, the air quality has reached levels that are unhealthy for everyone in the Puget Sound region,” the agency said in a Wednesday announcement. Although there could be some clearing Wednesday night, “with so much smoke around it will likely linger through Thursday,” the agency said.

The outlook for early next week shows smoke could return. Check the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website for the most recent conditions.

Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems:

  • Asthma attack
  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Stinging eyes
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat

Everyone should take precautions, especially those in above-mentioned sensitive groups. Tips include the following:

  • 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 air conditioner, 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 are usually available at hardware and home repair stores. Please check with your doctor to see if this appropriate for you. More information here.
  • For more information on ways to reduce your exposure, see the Washington Department of Health’s Smoke From Fire tips.

As always, check with your health care provider for more specific questions and concerns.

To learn more about wildfire smoke, and to subscribe to updates, visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website.

Other languages available upon request: [email protected], 206-343-8800

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