Wildfire smoke is not currently a health concern for local air quality. Recent cool temperatures and rain have reduced fire activity across the state. Air quality can fluctuate. Be sure to monitor current air quality conditions.
If you have shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue or difficulty moving, contact your healthcare provider immediately or call 911.
What makes air quality unhealthy?
When enough tiny particles—called fine particulate matter—are in the air, they can cause health problems. In the winter months, Pierce County can have unhealthy air quality because of wood-burning stoves. In the summer months, ozone and wildfire smoke pose problems.
How can wildfire smoke affect me?
- Trouble breathing.
- Stinging eyes.
- Irritated sinuses.
- Asthma attack.
- Chest pain.
- Fast heartbeat.
Who is most at risk from unhealthy air?
- People with heart or lung disease, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Adults over age 65.
- Pregnant women.
- Children and infants.
- People living with obesity.
- People with respiratory infections, like cold or flu.
How can I protect myself and my family?
- Avoid physical exertion and stay indoors as much as possible.
- Keep doors and windows closed when possible.
- Run an air conditioner—if you have one—and set it to re-circulate.
- Shop for a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter if someone in your home has asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or a history of heart disease or stroke.
- Make your own air filter with a box fan and about $25 in supplies if you can’t afford a HEPA filter.
Should my child play or practice sports outside?
Washington Department of Health recommends schools and other organizations cancel all outdoor activities—youth sports camps, practices, games, etc.—during times of unhealthy, very unhealthy or hazardous air quality. See the state’s recommendations for school activities based on air quality.
How can I learn about current air quality?
Just like you check the weather forecast, we encourage you to get in the habit of checking the air quality every day. You can:
- Find the most recent air quality information at the monitor nearest you through the Washington Department of Ecology’s Air Monitoring Network.
- Check the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s activity tracker and sign up for air quality alerts.
Air quality can change quickly and vary across different parts of the county. If you smell smoke and the air looks smoky, use your best judgement. Stay indoors when possible and postpone outdoor activities.
Should I wear a mask?
Masks can make breathing more difficult for some people. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider if a mask is right for you. If you can’t leave a smoky area or find other ways to reduce your exposure, masks labeled N-95 or N-100—available at most hardware stores—offer some protection from fine particles. To work, masks must fit correctly. They don’t fit around most beards. No masks are designed for children. Learn more about wildfire smoke and masks.
- Washington Department of Health Wildfire Toolkit—Has educational handouts and information available in eleven languages.
- Washington Smoke Information—Shared information from federal, state, county agencies and Indian Tribes for Washington counties affected by wildfire smoke.
- Poor Air Quality and Your Health—What you can do to improve air quality and protect your health.
- Your Reliable Source Blog—Look for news and updates when air quality is unhealthy.