Health district weighs in on current air quality - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Health district weighs in on current air quality

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KENNEWICK, WA - We've been experiencing hazy skies all day, and some people are having trouble breathing it in. Reporter Rex Carlin looked into what exactly we're breathing and how it's measured.

"It's just smoke particulates left over from the process of burning," said Rick Dawson with the Benton-Franklin Health District. "So it's combustion, remnants of combustion, it's basically ash. So you're breathing in ash."

And lots of it.

The air quality chart says it all. Today, we've been hovering back and forth between orange and red, which are "Unhealthy for sensitive groups", and simply "Unhealthy".

Right now, the air quality index in Kennewick is 146, and in Ellensburg it's 158, with 150 being the mark to bump the index up to the "Unhealthy" level.

And who suffers from this the most?

"Cause some irritation, so if you're somebody who suffers from asthma or has a respiratory condition, it can exasperate that relatively quickly," Dawson said.

But the deeper into the "Unhealthy" category the index goes, the more people will be affected who don't have those underlying conditions.

When Rex talked to the health district about what it would take to cancel something like a Dust Devils game for example, they said level five, the "Very unhealthy" stage.

And the health district also wants to remind everyone to check in on any elderly neighbors over the next few days just to make sure everyone's doing okay not only with the air but with the heat as well.