An air quality alert was issued by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency on Monday afternoon, Aug. 13, for the local health jurisdictions of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
“Air pollution is increasing due to wildfire smoke and may cause health problems,” the agency said.
The agency added:
We expect air quality to reach levels that are UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS overnight and into tomorrow in many areas. A high pressure system is pushing upper level wildfire smoke down. Smoke from British Columbia and the Cascades is continuing to build in the Puget Sound region today. Winds tomorrow afternoon could help clean the air. Thankfully, we don’t expect this to last as long as it did last summer. We are forecasting for GOOD to MODERATE air quality Wednesday and beyond.
Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems:
- Chest pain
- Fast heartbeat
- Stinging eyes
- Irritated sinuses
- Asthma attack
- Trouble breathing
- Sensitive groups should take precautions, including: children, older adults, and people that are pregnant, have heart or lung issues (such as asthma and 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 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.
Air quality conditions may change quickly. Check the air quality forecast regularly at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website.
As always, check with your health care provider for more specific questions and concerns.