Smoky Summer Skies
This was exceptionally good news from the National Weather Service Seattle on Monday, “Intermittent smoke is still possible this week, but air quality over the next 5 days is expected to be improved compared to prior weeks! Warm Tuesday, otherwise, comfortable temperatures are expected”. It was a relief to see the moon this week!
This summer, the Pacific NW has had seriously smoky skies from wildfires burning in the Western US and Canada, that have created a health hazard on many days.
Here is some important health information from the Washington State Department of Health:
Outdoor smoke contains very small particles and gases, including carbon monoxide. These particles can get into your eyes and lungs where they can cause health problems. Main sources of outdoor smoke in Washington:
- Wood stoves, pellet stoves, and fireplaces
- Agricultural burning
- Prescribed fires (used to manage forests)
What health problems can smoke cause?
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation (burning eyes and runny nose)
- Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and headache
- Aggravation of existing lung, heart and circulatory conditions, including asthma and angina
Who is especially sensitive to smoke?
Inhaling smoke is not good for anyone, even healthy people. People most likely to have health problems from breathing smoke include:
- People with lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including bronchitis and emphysema.
- People with respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, acute bronchitis, bronchiolitis, colds, or flu.
- People with existing heart or circulatory problems, such as dysrhythmias, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and angina.
- People with a prior history of heart attack or stroke.
- Infants and children under 18 because their lungs and airways are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults.
- Older adults (over age 65) because they are more likely to have unrecognized heart or lung diseases.
- Pregnant women because both the mother and fetus are at increased risk of health effects.
- People who smoke because they are more likely to already have lower lung function and lung diseases.
- People with diabetes because they are more likely to have an undiagnosed cardiovascular disease.
- For more information, visit the DOH Smoke From Fires Toolkit.
And from the Washington State Department of Ecology yesterday, “Don’t panic, but we’re starting to see some smoke back in the Puget Sound region, and expect a little more on Wed. Air quality shouldn’t be worse than “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,” and we should be back to “Good” by Thursday.”