Smoke starting to clear out across the region - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Smoke starting to clear out across the region

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- Wildfires burning across the state continue to cause problems, including the blanket of smoke across much of central and eastern Washington. Luckily, most of our area is seeing some relief this week.

The Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin have seen a lot of smoke over the past month. Multiple wildfires, and calm winds have created the perfect storm for unhealthy air quality throughout our region.

And for Julia and John Hathaway, it's affected their whole family.

"Our younger son Joel here, he had a couple soccer games scheduled and they went ahead and canceled one of those games because 4 or 5 of the kids weren't going to be able to play because of the air quality," said Julia Hathaway.

"I smelled a little of smoke, every know and then when I was playing outside and stuff," said Addie Hathaway.

Luckily, all that smoke is starting to clear out. In Yakima and the Tri Cities air quality is back to normal, but Ellensburg and areas closer to those wildfires are still seeing unhealthy to hazardous conditions, causing problems for many people.

Doctor Jesse Cone is a cardiologist with the Cardiac and Thoracic Institute of Central Washington. He says about two-thirds of his patients have complained of smoke related symptoms over the past few weeks. But, the problems don't always end when the smoke leaves.  

Dr. Cone says some people who are exposed to unhealthy air for a long period of time, can increase their chances of serious health conditions.

"You can actually increase your risk of cardiovascular events by about 6% and cancer by as much as 8%," said Dr. Cone.

He says now that the smoke is making its way out of our area it can take up to two weeks for those affected to feel like they're back to normal.

He says that really the only way to protect yourself is to stay inside, or get out of town when the air quality gets bad.

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