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Wildfires impact air quality

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Smoke is creating unhealthy air quality in the area. (PHOTO: KHQ Facebook friend Ryan Cox Smoke is creating unhealthy air quality in the area. (PHOTO: KHQ Facebook friend Ryan Cox
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SPOKANE, Wash. -

FOR THE MOST UP-TO-DATE REPORT ON AIR QUALITY, CLICK HERE: https://www.spokanecleanair.org/current-air-quality

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency is advising that air quality in the region is listed at "unhealthy for sensitive groups," but will likely be listed as "unhealthy" soon. Mark Rowe of Spokane Clean Air said the air quality should start to improve throughout the day on Friday. 

Until then, you should take precautions and limit your outdoor activity. Microscopic particles from smoke can get into your eyes and lungs and can aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases. 

Protect Yourself! It's important to limit your exposure to smoke-especially if you may be susceptible. Here are some steps you can take to protect your health:

Pay attention to air quality reports and stay alert to any news coverage or health warnings related to smoke. Current and forecasted air quality levels for the Spokane area are available online. 

Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, it's not the best time to go outside for a jog or to mow the lawn. And it's not a good time for your children to play outdoors. 

Run your air conditioner, if you have one. Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside. If you don't have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed may be dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases, seek alternative shelter. 

Help keep particle levels inside lower. When smoke levels are high, avoid using anything that burns, such as wood stoves, fireplaces-and even candles! Don't vacuum. That stirs up particles already inside your home. And don't smoke. That puts even more pollution in your lungs and in the lungs of people around you. 

If you have asthma or other lung disease, make sure you follow your doctor's directions about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor if symptoms worsen. 

If you have heart or lung disease, if you are an older adult, or if you have children, talk with your doctor about whether and when you should leave the area. When smoke is heavy for a prolonged period, fine particles can build up indoors, even though you may not be able to see them. 

If you live in a fire-prone area, plan ahead! Talk with your doctor before fire season so you'll know what to do in a smoky situation. Only your doctor can advise you about your specific health situation. 

Air cleaners can help indoors-but buy before a fire. Some room cleaners can help reduce particle levels indoors, as long as they are the right type and size for your home. If you choose to buy an air cleaner, don't wait until there is a problem. 

Note: Don't use an air cleaner that generates ozone. 

That just puts more pollution in your home. For more information on air cleaners visit www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/residair.html 

Dust masks aren't enough! Paper or "comfort" or "dust" masks-the kind you can buy at hardware stores-are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. 

These masks generally will not protect your lungs from the fine particles in smoke. At the link below, there are recommendations for certain kinds of masks.

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