About a dozen wildfires are still burning in the Northwest keeping the air hazy and unhealthy. But experts predict few, if any, long-term health effects.
Matthew Kadlec is a toxicologist for Washington’s Department of Ecology. He says the wildfire smoke in much of the Northwest isn’t enough to worry most healthy adults. But in many areas there is concern for seniors, children and people who have asthma or illnesses.
In fact, Kadlec says in Wenatchee the smoke particulates are worse than a certain sprawling California city.
Wildfire smoke is becoming the “new normal” for some parts of the Northwest. In central Washington, health officials are urging residents to keep their doors and windows closed and stay inside. Bad air has forced at least one school district to take some unusual measures to keep class in session.
The town of Cashmere is at the geographic center of Washington –- and about 8 miles from one of the state’s largest wildfires. Cashmere schools closed last week due to hazardous air, both inside and outside classrooms.
Now, school is back in session. With a few modifications.
The air quality has not been good today in the Treasure Valley, but it’s not as bad as it looks. The sky has had a yellow brown tinge to it making it look worse than it is according to Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality. Dave Luft, a DEQ air-shed manager, says you can’t always judge the air quality by the sky.
An official with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says the Treasure Valley is experiencing the worst air quality since a bad winter inversion in 2002. Smoke from wildfires around the region have kept the air quality index between 101 and 150 for several days. That’s the orange category.
There’s been a haze over southwest Idaho since Monday evening from several fires in the region. The air quality in the Treasure Valley Tuesday falls in the moderate range. Dave Luft with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says that’s considered safe for most people.