Poor air quality conditions continue in Kittitas County - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Poor air quality conditions continue in Kittitas County

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KITTITAS COUNTY, WA - Cle Elum is currently experiencing “hazardous” air quality conditions and Ellensburg has “unhealthy” conditions (as of the 8:00am readings on Monday). Smoke is from both the Jolly Mountain Fire in Kittitas County and the Norse Peak Fire near Naches. Air quality conditions have been fluctuating depending on fire activity and the weather. Smoky conditions are expected to continue throughout the week.

The Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) is urging residents to be aware of current air quality conditions and to take necessary steps to avoid negative health effects.  According to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) you can take the following steps to protect yourself:

  • Avoid physical exertion outdoors if smoke is in the air.
  • If you have asthma or other lung diseases, make sure you follow your doctor's directions about taking your medicines and follow your asthma management plan. Call your health care provider if your symptoms worsen.
  • Stay indoors and keep indoor air as clean as possible. Take the following steps when indoors:   
  • Keep windows and doors closed. If there is no air conditioning and it is too hot to keep windows and doors closed, consider leaving the area.
  • Run an air conditioner (if you have one), set it to re-circulate and close the fresh-air intake. Make sure to change the filter regularly.
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce indoor air pollution. A HEPA filter may reduce the number of irritating fine particles in indoor air. A HEPA filter with charcoal will help remove some of the gases from the smoke.
  • Don’t add to indoor pollution. Don’t use candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Don’t vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Don’t smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
  • Some room air cleaners can help remove smoke particles indoors. California’s air cleaning devices for the home fact sheet (PDF).
  • Information about keeping indoor air free of smoke: Improving Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality during Wildfire Smoke Events (PDF).

N95 masks are also available via KCPHD in Ellensburg at 507 N Nanum Street, Suite 102, as well as the Putnam Centennial Center in Cle Elum at 719 E 3rd Street.

The DOH recommendations apply to everyone when the air quality is in the unhealthy, very unhealthy, or hazardous range, but it is especially important for sensitive groups which include:

  • People with pre-existing lung or heart conditions such as asthma or emphysema, diabetes, or other respiratory infections;
  • People who have had a stroke;
  • Infants, children, and adults older than 65; and
  • Pregnant women.

Air quality information can be accessed at any time via the Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) online https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/enviwa/.  WAQA is a tool that measures the air quality with categories ranging from “good” to “hazardous” air.  Additional resources include the following:

For more information about health concerns relating to air quality or informational resources, please contact KCPHD at (509)-962-7515.