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SEATTLE – Wildfires in Canada are burning, and already smoke from the fires is drifting into Washington, and potentially bringing significant health risks. Smoke from wildfires can be a lethal hazard for those in affected areas and across the state as wind gusts blow smoke throughout the region.

 The American Lung Association offers the following tips for hazardous wildfire conditions:
• Stay inside as much as possible. Close any doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut –Use the recirculation setting on home air conditioners to avoid outdoor air contamination. Avoid exercising outdoors. If you have to travel through smoking areas, close your car windows and vents and set your vehicle’s air conditioning to recirculate.
• Protect the air inside your home. Research shows that air purifiers can help protect your health during a wildfire. Consider using an air purifier that has a HEPA filter to capture harmful particles in your home and circulate air around the whole room to help clear the air in your home from smoke.
• Don’t depend on a dust mask. Ordinary dust masks will not help. Look for masks marked N95 or N100 which will filter out the damaging fine particles in wildfire smoke, but ensure that they fit your face (masks do not fit children). Consult with your doctor before using a mask, especially if you have lung disease, as it may be difficult to use.
• Check with your doctor. If you have any worsening symptoms, check in with your physician about symptoms and your medications.
• Know the air quality in your area. Visit www.airnow.gov or download the AirNow app on your smartphone. Local radio, TV weather reports and newspapers also provide updates.
• Have your indoor air quality assessed. The American Lung Association in Washington’s Master Home

Environmentalist program offers free in-home assessment for Seattle residents to identify health hazards such ventilation issues, mold, mildew and more. We then recommend simple, no-cost or low-cost solutions to improving the air quality in your home. Seattle families that have a child with asthma may be eligible to receive a free HEPA air cleaner with a home visit.

One of the many pollutants found in wildfire smoke is particle pollution, which is a mix of very tiny solid and liquid particles suspended in air. Exposure to wildfire smoke and particle pollution can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes.

“Being prepared for wildfire health hazards before they start is crucial to protecting our health,” said Season Oltmann, Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Washington. “Some of the most vulnerable to wildfire smoke exposure are babies, small children, pregnant women, the elderly and anyone with existing respiratory problems or heart disease.”

More information on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke can be found here. You can also call the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNG-USA to speak with respiratory therapists and registered nurses regarding questions about lung health.
 

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