Wildfire smoke is a health concern


While Washington state wasn’t forecast to see above normal wildfire risk this summer, local air quality has still been impacted by wildfire smoke, creating hazardous health conditions.

The chance of a large fire – and smoky conditions to follow – in any given year is increasing due to climate change. Even distant fires, such as in California or British Columbia, can impact local air quality – and your health.

The Northwest is currently enduring lingering smoke and the Nooksack Health Department encourages staying inside and limiting outdoor activity until conditions improve.

According to the CDC, wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles that can make people sick when breathed. It’s especially concerning for those with asthma, COPD, and heart disease, for women who are pregnant, and for children. Exposure to wildfire smoke can cause coughing, trouble breathing, stinging eyes, runny nose, headaches, chest pain, and more.

To protect yourself, stay inside on particularly smoky days, stock up on N95 masks for times when it’s necessary to leave home in smoky conditions, and learn to make your own in-home air filtration system.

Clean air agencies recommend attaching a filter to a box fan and using the fan in the room most often occupied, while all windows and doors are closed. Filters should be replaced when they look dirty, or every three months.

To see current air quality conditions: nwcleanairwa.gov/air-quality-center/#map.

Air quality conditions as of October 20 remain unhealthy across western Whatcom County.