Another air quality alert for Puget Sound as wildfire smoke returns

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The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the local health jurisdictions of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties have issued an air quality alert due to wildfire smoke-related air pollution, which may cause health problems.

“Air quality levels are going up more quickly than expected in the Puget Sound Region and we are reaching levels unhealthy for everyone in some areas,” an agency announcement said. “We recommend everyone stay indoors when possible.”

With winds pushing smoke from British Columbia and the fires in the Cascades in the direction of Puget Sound, the agency expects poor air quality to continue through Wednesday. Check the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website for the most recent conditions.

Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems, including:

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

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 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.

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