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Sunday, December 3, 2023
Dec. 3, 2023

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Wildfire smoke casts haze over Southwest Washington

Air quality reaches unhealthy levels in Columbia River Gorge

By , Columbian Sports Editor

Wildfire smoke from Canada dipped into Southwest Washington on Saturday afternoon, casting a haze over the area.

An air quality index measurement 62 was recorded just after 4 p.m. in central Vancouver, according to the Southwest Clean Air Agency. That is in the “moderate” category of air quality health risks. A reading over 100 is unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Much of Washington experience smoke Saturday either from destructive wildfires in British Columbia or blazes near Spokane, including one that destroyed at last 185 structures in Medical Lake.

AIr quality reached “unhealthy” status in the Columbia River Gorge, with White Salmon recording an air quality index of 171. Goldendale reported an AQI of 175.

When smoke and unhealthy air quality arrives, the state Department of Health recommends closing windows and doors, filtering indoor air with an HVAC system, portable air cleaner, or homemade box fan filter, and limiting the use of candles or other things that may contribute to indoor air pollution.

People most likely to be affected by the health threats of smoke include those who have heart disease, or lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma; children; and those who are pregnant, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Minor symptoms of smoke exposure include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, according to the state. More serious symptoms include difficulty breathing, chest pain and irregular heartbeat. Seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe.

Live and local air quality information can be found at airnow.gov and wasmoke.blogspot.com. You also track wildfires currently burning within the U.S. at weather.gov/fire and inciweb.nwcg.gov.

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