Air quality remains unhealthy, burn ban still holds

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The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the local health jurisdictions of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties continue to monitor air pollution in the region due to wildfire smoke around the Pacific Northwest and warn that it may cause health problems.

The latest forecast shows air pollution levels will remain at unhealthy levels through much of today. There has been some improvement in the South Puget Sound, but the levels still remain unhealthy for everyone. Lingering smoke over the Pacific may still impact the area through early tomorrow morning, but the agency expects much less smoke by tomorrow afternoon. Until air quality gets better, stay indoors with windows closed, if you can find somewhere cool. Check the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website for updated forecasts as conditions change.

Due to wildfire smoke and current air quality conditions, a Stage 1 air quality burn ban continues for King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. The purpose of the burn ban is to reduce any additional harm from excess air pollution and is in addition to existing fire safety burn bans. The Clean Air Agency will continue to closely monitor the situation for purposes of air quality burn bans.

Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems:

  • 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.
  • N95 or N100 rated masks can help protect some people from air pollution. Medical masks or standard dust masks do not provide the necessary level of protection. N95 or N100 rated 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.
  • 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.
  • For more information on ways to reduce your exposure, see the Washington Department of Health’s Smoke From Fire tips.
  • To learn more about wildfire smoke, and to subscribe to updates, visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website.

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