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Be Prepared for Wildfire Smoke

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  Wildfire season, air quality and health precautions

SPOKANE, Wash.,-- Continued dry weather and wildfires in the region will impact air quality this summer, therefore officials from Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) and partners want residents to be prepared for wildfire season.

“Wildfire smoke has the potential to significantly impact our air quality, as we’ve seen over the last few summers. It’s especially important that those with health conditions like asthma, COPD, heart and lung conditions have a plan in place with their health care provider before the start of wildfire season,” said Julie Oliver, executive director of Spokane Clean Air.

Smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles. The severity of the smoke impact depends on weather patterns. If the air isn’t moving, the concentration of fine particles increases. Breathing smoke can make anyone sick. Even someone who is healthy can get sick if there is enough smoke in the air. Children are more susceptible to smoke because their respiratory systems are still developing, they breathe more air (and air pollution) per pound of body weight than adults, and they’re more likely to be active outdoors.

Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects, including:

Coughing, Trouble breathing normally
Headaches
Stinging eyes, scratchy throat
Runny nose, Irritated sinuses
Wheezing and shortness of breath
Tiredness
Asthma attack
Fast heart beat
Chest pain, heart attack

Individuals should know where to get information about air quality and steps they can take to protect themselves and loved ones.  Air quality levels are updated hourly and posted online at SpokaneCleanAir.org using measurements from across Spokane County. The Air Quality Index (AQI) uses color-coded categories to report when air quality is good, moderate or unhealthy. Additionally, when smoke particles are expected to reach an unhealthy level, local news media are notified, as well as individuals and organizations who subscribe to EnviroFlash air quality alerts.


It’s important that individuals limit their exposure to smoke – especially if they are susceptible. Here are some steps people can take to protect themselves from smoke:

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For more information:

Spokane Clean Air’s “Current Air Quality” webpage

Washington State Department of Health “Wildfire Smoke/Health” webpage

Spokane Regional Health District wildfire FAQ 

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