Seattle Air Quality Equivalent to Smoking Seven Cigarettes Per Day

 Alexa Lardieri
  26th-Aug-2018

NEARBY WILDFIRES ARE polluting Seattle's skies, diminishing the air quality and prompting health effects similar to heavy smoking.

Blazing wildfires along the West Coast in places like California and Canada's British Columbia are sending smoke and ash into Seattle's air, raising the Air Quality Index to 186 as of Wednesday afternoon. A range of 151 to 200 is classified as unhealthy. At that level, people may begin to experience health effects. In some parts of the city, the index rose to 201, which is classified as very unhealthy.

According to a formula created by Berkeley Earth, an Air Quality Index of 150 is equal to smoking about seven cigarettes a day. As of Wednesday morning, Seattle ranked No. 1 on AirVisual's top 10 cities worldwide with the worst air quality.

The National Weather Service is predicting a bit of relief for the area Wednesday night into Thursday, thanks to a transition to cooler temperatures and the passage of a dry cold front, according to several local agencies. However, winds may blow smoke that is over the ocean back onto land and a possible storm could bring lightning, igniting new wildfires.

Areas along the coast and in southwest Washington can expect slightly cleaner air Thursday. Unfortunately, central and eastern Washington can expect to see continued smoke with poor air quality for the next several days. And, although winds will bring fresh air over the state, it's also possible they could cause the fires to spread, according to the agencies.

When experiencing heavy levels of air pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends buying an air cleaner for the home, wearing particulate masks, staying indoors and refraining from frying, broiling or cooking with gas stoves. People with health conditions such as asthma, lung disease and cardiovascular disease should take extra caution and ensure they have enough of their necessary medications.

Coughing, watery eyes, a headache or wheezing are all signs of effects from smoke.

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