July 22, 2019
Summer air quality in Spokane can often be impacted by regional wildfires. This results in air pollution that is sometimes unhealthy for all. During times of poor air quality, Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) and Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) urge residents to understand the health risks associated with wildfire smoke and take precautions to protect their health.
Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning vegetation, building materials and other materials. Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick, even someone who is healthy, if there is enough smoke in the air. Breathing in smoke can have immediate health effects, including:
https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals...Populations at increased risk for severe respiratory problems from wildfire smoke include children and adolescents, especially when active. Children under the age of six are most at risk for experiencing severe respiratory problems from wildfire smoke. When air quality conditions deteriorate into "unhealthy" ranges, the best thing to do is limit outdoor exposure.
Staying indoors is the safest option, but if you must be outside for work or other reasons, a mask may offer some protection from smoke. Masks labeled N95 or N100 provide some protection — they filter out fine particles but not hazardous gases (such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and acrolein). This type of mask can be found at many hardware and home repair stores and pharmacies. If you decide to keep a mask on hand, see the Wildfire Smoke and Face Masks information sheet (en español) view a video on how to properly wear the mask, and read these tips:
Place the mask over your nose and under your chin, with one strap placed below the ears and one strap above. Adjust the mask so that air cannot get through at the edges.
Employers are not required to provide masks, but you can still ask your employer to allow you to voluntarily wear one. If they allow it, they are required to provide information per WAC 296-842, Respirators. The right mask can provide some protection for some people for a limited time when it is not possible to stay indoors. Also, be sure to drink lots of water and check with your employer about taking more frequent breaks. Read this handout on Wildfire Smoke and Dust Masks, developed by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.
If there are concerns about indoor air quality in the workplace, check with your employer about keeping the air inside as clean as possible. The windows and doors should be kept closed. The building air conditioner should be used with the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. For concerns about wildfire smoke exposure in the workplace, see the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries page on wildfire smoke.
Only take what you really need, like your cell phone, medicines, identification (like a passport or license) and cash. An Evacuation Checklist provided by the American Red Cross can help in the event of an evacuation.