Wildfires cause poor air quality in Tri-Cities and surrounding areas

WASHINGTON- With wildfires taking place in the Yakima area as well in the Tri-Cities area, many residents woke up to poor air quality Wednesday morning. 

Poor air quality can lead to people who have asthma or breathing issues to be adversely affected by the air. Experts say the best practice to keep your self safe from poor air quality is to stay inside. If you are indoors you should avoid indoor pollutants such as smoking and candles. Although cloth masks are currently being worn to protect individuals from COVID-19, according to experts they can't protect individuals from poor air quality. 

"Unlike COVID where we are talking about droplets that are falling to the ground, you are in a smoky environment, this is flowing through the air," said Rick Dawson who is the Benton Franklin Health District Senior Manager for Surveillance Investigation Programs. "It's pervasive versus coming out of a single person you can’t necessarily escape smoke." 

Experts say if you would like an effective face covering to protect yourself from poor air quality it would require you to get an N95 mask. They warn against this because these aren't often available for the general public.

"You would be looking at using an N95 which are in short supply, they are also not something that the general public should be wearing because they are something that has to fit correctly to your face," said Dawson. "They can be somewhat difficult to breathe in anyways so if you are somebody who is having issues, has respiratory issues or asthma it’s not probably the greatest thing to be trying to breathe through anyway." 

You can also go to the Washington State Department of Ecology's  website to monitor the air quality across the state.