Washington Smoke Map

*The map above is not able to display all state air quality monitors. Click here to see all monitors in Washington: WA Ecology Air Monitors

Note: Some users might notice intermittent discrepancies in colors shown on the map of air quality monitors above, and those reported on the Department of Ecology's official page. This is because Ecology believes their method of calculating the air quality category (i.e. “Good”, “Moderate”, Unhealthy” etc) is more protective of public health in Washington. If in doubt as to which better represents public health risk, use the more stringent of the two (i.e. the map showing worse air quality).





Tuesday, September 5, 2017

School has started in some areas, the wildfire smoke information below can help you make decisions to keep everyone at school safe.    
  • Check news, social media and local reports for the latest air quality status.
  • It is up to the school district or school to cancel or move outdoor activities when the air quality is poor.  Use the Air Pollution and School Activities Guide (PDF) to help make those determinations.  
Inhaling smoke is not good for anyone, even healthy people. Everyone should follow these recommendations:
  • Avoid physical activity outdoors when conditions are "unhealthy", "very unhealthy" or “hazardous.”
  • Keep doors and windows closed but be mindful of hot weather. Run air systems/AC on recirculate and the close fresh-air intake. See the Improving Ventilation during Wildfire Smoke Events (PDF) guide.
  • Take extra care if you have a heart or lung condition, diabetes, are pregnant or over 65, as well as infants and children. Seek medical attention if the smoke is effecting your health.
  • For more information:  www.doh.wa.gov/smokefromfires  
    • Guidance for keeping indoor air cleaner. Be aware that having people close windows who do not have air conditioning may pose health risks for overheating.
    • “Wildfire Smoke and Face Mask Fact Sheet”. It’s important to wear the right kind of mask. Face masks do not work well on small children or people with beards. We recommend that people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions consult a health care provider about using a mask because wearing a mask can make it more difficult to breathe.

5 comments:

  1. Students from ICS school are heading to Camp Cispus. Is it safe to go there from Kirkland during these wild fires?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Prasad, After tomorrow, most of Western WA including Cispus will be upwind of the major fires nearby. So air quality will improve. But it is unlikely to be entirely smoke free because of complex airflow in the Cascades and possible transport of smoke from Oregon/ California. However I do not expect air to be much worse than Moderate between Friday- Monday. Hard to forecast beyond that

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  2. Spokane air may remain poor for many days it appears. My question is regarding indoor air quality for sensitive individuals. I see some neighbors take no special precautions while others treat the situation as though they are sheltering in place for a gas attack.

    - Sheltering in place may dictate applying tape to all the door and window cracks to minimize smoke infiltration. Less Smoke Enters/a Good thing.
    - If one keeps the air conditioning running to mange indoor air temperature, I believe a certain unknown amount of air is drawn in from outside the house envelope into the system where the fan can distribute the air to the rooms. Smoke enters/Not Good.
    - If the AC system is set to recirculate the indoor air, eventually a family of 3 could affect the freshness/viability of the indoor air by normal breathing, cooking, etc. Old air Not Good.

    What are your recommendations with regard to dealing with Prolonged Periods of Unhealthy Air outside Versus Controlling Indoor Air Quality?
    Thank You,
    WSW aka Tumbleeds

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    Replies
    1. Our toxicologist has developed a comprehensive response to your questions. Here it is:

      When you’re downwind of a wildfire you can’t completely avoid the smoke unless you evacuate to somewhere away from it. You get exposed when there’s smoke where you are no matter what, but there are things you can do to minimize breathing it, especially when you’re indoors. This helps because most people spend most spend most of their time (85-90%) indoors anyway.

      Smoke is made of solids, liquids and gases. The gases are mainly carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and steam. Smoke liquids and solids are a mixture of chemicals in the form of tiny particles. Most of these particles are less than 1-micrometer in diameter - so small that they easily penetrate into indoor air and down into people's lungs. They can remain suspended in air for several days.

      A lot of research has been done to find out how much of all these smoke particles outdoors get indoors. For example a study of some private homes, private apartments, and group homes in Seattle found that 79% of the particles inside had come in from the air outside these residences on average. The range was 40-100% at individual residences. Studies of other modern housing in climates like we have in the Pacific Northwest have found similar averages and ranges. If 79% of the particles in the air in your home were ones that leaked in from outdoors, on a wildfire day with 100-micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic meter of air, you could have around 79-micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic meter of air. Particles are also made by indoor sources.

      [Diagram from Chin & Zhao, Atmospheric Environment volume 45 (2011) pages 275-288]

      How much of the outdoor particles that get inside depends on window types (metal, vinyl, wood), vents, heating and cooling system features, unconditioned basements, exposed ducts, and insulation factors. Residences with low building values often have less resistance to particle infiltration compared to other residences. Make sure your home has good insulation, caulk the windows, seal the ducts, and close your chimney draft if you have one.

      Additional protection during wildfire smoke episodes can be gained by limiting the flow rate of ventilation systems. Houses need some fresh air ventilation ordinarily but when wildfire smoke comes, close vents, keep all the windows and doors closed, and stay indoors as much as possible. Most window air conditioners have a recirculate setting. If you run an AC, make sure it’s in that mode.

      Also operate air cleaners continuously. Portable air cleaners should have a high efficiency particulate absorption (HEPA) filter and/or electrostatic air cleaner. Central forced air HVAC filters should be upgraded to HEPA. Research shows these devices can reduce fine particulate matter concentrations indoors by 50% or more.

      Other recommendations:
      • Don’t make smoke indoors by smoking, broiling food, burning incense or using gas stoves.
      • Do consider wearing a respiratory mask (only some kinds of masks work so check this website to find out more about them).
      • You should also consider leaving the smoke-affected area.
      • Everyone and especially susceptible people should pay attention to air quality public service announcements. Among other information, PSA will advise about reducing physical activity and symptoms to watch out for.

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    2. Respiration filter mask website -> http://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/334-353.pdf

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