Local Air Quality Advisories

August 20, 2018 | by Erin Sirianni

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An air quality alert is in effect for the greater Puget Sound region as the Air Quality Index has risen to “unhealthy” levels for nearly the entire state of Washington, according to AirNow.com. We have published the most recent local advisories below, as of 7 pm on August 20th. Please visit the websites linked below for current information.

Advisory from the City of Mercer Island website:
With an air quality alert in effect, it’s important for residents to take any measures they can to avoid exposure, especially for sensitive populations such as pregnant women, people with breathing or heart conditions, etc.

You can find the current status here (it can change quickly throughout the day): www.pscleanair.org

You can also learn more about the health effects of wildfire smoke, and what to do: www.pscleanair.org/517/Wildfire-Smoke

Residents wishing to avoid the unhealthy air are invited to spend time in the City’s air-conditioned Community Center (8236 SE 24th Street), open from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm on weekdays.

NOTE: The City is removing lifeguards from beaches today (Monday, 3:00 pm) and has advised field staff to minimize outdoor exposure where possible; we are monitoring for further declines in air quality.

Thank you for your understanding.

Advisory from the Mercer Island School District:
We will be monitoring the air quality on a daily basis this week with the start of the fall sports season practices and band camp at the high school. With the increase of smoke in the air, our first priority is the safety of our students. We will be keeping students inside until the air quality improves. Please monitor your students during this time with rest and proper hydration during our current weather situation. Once again, your student’s safety is our top priority and we will monitor this closely.

Mercer Island School District website >>

Joint Advisory from the Local Health Departments:
This is an air quality alert for August 20th, 2018, from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the local health jurisdictions of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. Air pollution is increasing due to wildfire smoke and may cause health problems.

Air pollution levels are rising across Puget Sound region again and levels are expected to be UNHEALTHY for everyone today. Smoke is expected to impact air quality over the next few days. Air pollution levels will rise and fall, so we encourage you check the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency air quality map to see the latest air quality nearest you.

Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Headaches
  • Coughing
  • Asthma attack
  • Stinging eyes
  • Chest pain
  • Irritated sinuses
  • Fast heartbeat

Everyone should take precautions, especially children, older adults, and people who are pregnant, have heart or lung issues (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD), or who have had a stroke:

  • Stay indoors when possible.
  • Limit your physical activity outdoors, such as running, bicycling, physical labor, and sports.
    Close windows in your home, if possible, and keep the indoor air clean. If you have an air conditioner, use the “recirculation” switch. Use an indoor air filter if available.
  • If you do not have an air conditioner, consider finding a public place with clean, air-conditioned indoor air like a public library or a community center.
  • Avoid driving, when possible. If you must drive, keep the windows closed. If you use the car’s fan or air conditioning, make sure the system recirculates air from inside the car; don’t pull air from outside.
  • Schools and daycare providers should consider postponing outdoor activities or moving them indoors.
  • N95 or N100 rated masks can help protect some people from air pollution. These masks are usually available at hardware and home repair stores. Please check with your doctor to see if this appropriate for you. More information here.
  • For more information on ways to reduce your exposure, see the Washington Department of Health’s Smoke From Fire tips.
  • To learn more about wildfire smoke, and to subscribe to updates, visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s website.

As always, check with your health care provider for more specific questions and concerns.

From the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency – Air Quality Burn Ban: 
Due to current air quality conditions, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is issuing a Stage 1 air quality burn ban for King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, effective at 5 PM today, August 20, 2018.
This ban is in effect until further notice and is in addition to existing fire safety burn bans.

The purpose of the burn ban is to reduce any additional harm from excess air pollution and is in addition to existing fire safety burn bans. The Clean Air Agency will continue to closely monitor the situation for purposes of air quality burn bans.

  • No outdoor burning during a Stage 1 air quality burn ban including:
  • No charcoal barbeques or similar solid fuel devices
  • No campfires or bonfires
  • No fire pits, chimneys, fire bowls, or similar free-standing devices
  • No fireplaces, uncertified wood stoves, or uncertified inserts*
  • No agricultural fires (as described in the agricultural burn permit)
  • Local fire districts do not grant Native American ceremonial fire permits outside of tribal lands during air quality burn bans.

It is OK to use natural gas and propane grills, stoves, or inserts during a Stage 1 burn ban.

*The only exception to using fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves or inserts, is if the homeowner has a previously approved ‘No Other Adequate Source of Heat’ exemption from the Clean Air Agency.

Visit pscleanair.org/burnban to view the current burn ban status.