The WA State DOH and the health departments of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties released an advisory alert for the Puget Sound region this morning regarding the unhealthy air quality.

Current air quality conditions are UNHEALTHY for everyone, but may reach VERY UNHEALTHY for everyone by this afternoon.

While air quality is unhealthy, everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects. If air quality reaches VERY UNHEALTHY, everyone may experience more serious health effects.

Unfortunately, the cloth and surgical face masks that block respiratory droplets and help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus don’t provide much protection against wildfire smoke. The tiniest soot particles — which are less than 2.5 microns, or millionths of a meter, across — can pass through woven fabric, said UW Medicine pulmonologist Dr. Cora Sack.  “What we really worry about in wood smoke are those small particles, which, when inhaled, have the ability to get deeper into the lungs.”

This Seattle Times article on how to reduce exposure to unhealthy air from wildfires offers some suggestions such as:

  • run an air conditioner with a HEPA filter
  • create a “clean room” in your house
  • if temperatures get high, open the windows up at night or early morning to let cool air in then close things fully before heat of the day builds
  • Masks with the label “N95” or “N100” are the most effective type of mask that protects you from air pollution, so if you already have one of these do continue to use it, but due to ongoing COVID-19 these still should be reserved for healthcare workers. 

Some private schools have reported to WFIS that due to the widespread power outages and the fires and resulting evacuations, they have had to push their start date out until next week.