Wildfire smoke means air quality can change quickly | Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

  • Thu Sep 7th, 2017 10:45am
  • News

Smoke from regional wildfires has returned to Pierce County. According to the State Department of Ecology, air quality is currently unhealthy. Sensitive groups should be especially cautious. These groups include:

  • Adults older than 65.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Infants and children.
  • People with heart or lung disease, such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
  • People with diabetes.
  • People who have had a stroke.

The closer you are to a wildfire, the greater risk to your health. Generally, during times of poor air quality, people in sensitive groups should monitor air quality and limit time spent outdoors. Everyone’s health situation is unique. Check with your health care provider if you have concerns about air quality. On Aug. 29, the Health Department issued the same guidance because of wildfire smoke.

Conditions can change quickly. Pierce County has four monitoring stations. Air quality can vary slightly across the county, based on wind, weather, and elevation. To see current conditions nearest you, visit the State Department of Ecology website at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/.

Should you be concerned about ash in the air?

Just like smoke, ash can irritate your eyes and lungs. The human body is better equipped to filter out these larger particles because of the hairs in your nose or when you close your mouth or eyes. You can also stay indoors to limit your exposure to ash.

Unlike ash, the particles in smoke that can cause more serious health concerns are much smaller. These fine particles are one-twentieth the width of human hair, which means the body can’t filter them out as easily. For this reason, the Health Department advises residents to take appropriate precautions during air quality alerts.

Air quality resources

Find valuable information on air quality and learn what to do to protect your family at: