(Wenatchee, WA) Smoke from fires can significantly affect air quality. The Health District is working in partnership with the US Forest Service and Department of Ecology to monitor air quality. When air quality is in this range everyone is at risk of being affected by it. At this point whether very unhealthy or hazardous you should limit exposure to outside air and do not do anything that would increase your breathing rate, people should avoid any exertion.
If you must go outside you should use an N-95 mask not a dust mask or cloth cover. The fine particles in this smoke can pass through the cloth or dust mask. In your vehicle use the recycle mode on your interior air system.
Smoke is made up of a mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other materials burn. Smoke is made up of visible and invisible parts. It contains tiny particles of soot suspended in air, and toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, that you cannot see. Smoke in the outdoor air can also travel indoors. Smoke’s very small particles are a public health concern because they are harmful to the lung and carry toxic material with them deep into sensitive areas of the lungs. Gases in smoke will differ depending on the type of fire and the material burned. In a wood smoke fire, there are a number of gases such as acrolein, benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and nitrogen oxides. From the Department of Health website http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/AirQuality/OutdoorAir/SmokeFromFires.aspx
Increased aggravation of pre-existing heart and lung diseases, and premature mortality among sensitive populations is possible. You may see increasing adverse respiratory effects in the general population as well.
Keep windows closed. Limit time outdoors. If possible, go to an area unaffected by the wildfire smoke. Do not bring outside air into your home, office or school buildings. At home with all your windows closed, if you are getting headaches, dizziness or nausea or having increased respiratory symptoms consider leaving the area until the smoke clears.
More information about current air quality conditions and forest fires is located at:
Forest Service: http://www.inciweb.org/
Chelan Douglas Public Health www.cdh.wa.gov