As wildfires continue to burn in California, Oregon, and Washington, smoke has caused the air quality to become extremely unhealthy and even hazardous in some areas of Washington.
The particulate matter in the smoky air is extremely small, less than the width of a human hair. Robin Priddy of the Benton Clean Air Agency said it can cause lung issues.
"Once they are in your lungs they can cause irritation, they can cause inflammation. Even people who don't have any kind of pre-existing lung condition can be affected when the smoke gets as thick as it is right now outside in the hazardous range," said Priddy.
In the interest of health, some businesses in the Tri-Cities, like Dutch Bros, are closing temporarily.
Brad and Megan Barnes are the Pasco and Richland Dutch Bros. franchisees, and they are trying to keep employees and customers safe.
"It's another 2020 curve ball thrown at us. We are hopeful [the smoke] goes away, but i think we are just preparing to at the end of the day do what is most right for customers and our employees," said Brad.
"We want to get the stands open when its time, and ready where everybody can be healthy to give that extra shot of love of coffee out the window to make people's days brighter because it really is--for all the craziness in the world--the one thing people need is that smile from our baristas faces and that cup of joy," said Megan.
They are monitoring the air quality and hopes they can reopen the Tri-Cities locations soon.
In a statement, Dutch Bros said:
"Dutch Bros is dedicated to the health and safety of our employees and customers. We're keeping an eye on the air quality index and temporarily closing our shops when conditions become hazardous. We'll open the shops again as soon as its safe to do so with safety precautions in place for our employees...such as limiting their exposure outside of the shop."
Shawn McElroy, the Operator for the Dutch Bros location in Kennewick, says they will be ready to serve everyone once it becomes safe.
"Hunker down inside and when it gets better out, we'll be here ready, smiling, and ready to serve you guys," said McElroy.
Robin says that the AQI monitor is how they can get air quality information out to people quickly, so keep track of the AQI in your area. She says those numbers change based on weather and fires and that the best option right now is to stay inside where there is filtered air.
To learn more about air quality, follow these links: