The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and a coalition of Puget Sound area health departments said that significant smoke from Oregon wildfires is expected to reach the region Thursday night.
By Friday morning, much of the region’s air quality could be unhealthy for sensitive groups or everyone, the agency said, with poor air quality expected all weekend.
High temperatures may lead to moderate ozone levels in the Cascade foothills on Thursday. Fire marshals in the four-county area of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties have issued fire safety burn bans prohibiting outdoor burning including recreational fires.
Sensitive groups include infants, children and people over 65, or those that are pregnant, have heart or lung diseases (such as asthma or COPD), respiratory infections, diabetes, stroke survivors, and those suffering from COVID-19. Members of those groups should take precautions.
Wildfire smoke can cause and worsen many health problems such as:
– Asthma attack
– Chest pain
– Fast heartbeat
– Irritated sinuses
– Stinging eyes
– Trouble breathing
Recommendations include the following:
– Stay at home when possible.
– Limit your activity outdoors, such as running, bicycling, physical labor, sports or hobbies.
– Close windows in your home, if possible, to keep the indoor air clean. If you have an air conditioner, use it in recirculation mode. Make sure your home ventilation system is maintained following manufacturer recommendations (e.g., replace filters regularly). Don’t contribute to indoor air pollution. Use a portable air cleaner if available.
– Heat can be dangerous too. If it becomes unbearably hot, it’s better to open the windows for a short period of time.
– Masks with the label “N95” or “N100” are the most effective type of mask that protects you from air pollution, but due to ongoing COVID-19 response those are reserved for health care and other frontline workers for now. While cloth face coverings are recommended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, they offer limited protection from air pollution and wildfire smoke and must be properly worn. Any mask or face covering should be used only as a last resort to protect against wildfire smoke. More information on COVID-19 mask do’s and don’ts can be found here.
– Check with your health care provider for more specific health questions and concerns. As always, seek medical attention if symptoms are serious.