Smoke and haze can impact your breathing for days as hot weather moves into Spokane

Smoke and haze can impact your breathing for days as hot weather moves into Spokane

With fires burning all across the region, that breath of relief you took knowing firefighters are working around the clock to protect us might have been a bit choked back Tuesday as smoke moved into Spokane.

The Spokane Clean Air Agency rated the air quality most of Tuesday as “Unhealthy for Some Groups” as fine particulate matter settled into the area.

“Its a little heavy on the chest,” said Krista Rush, out walking with her kids at Riverfront Park.

Doctors and respiratory specialists at Spokane Respiratory Consultants say they’ve already had a lot of folks coming in with breathing trouble and expect it to only get busier as fire season continues to ramp up.

Dr. See, a pulmonologist of 12 years says the smoke and particulates wreak havoc on the airways.

“Our lungs have fine hairs that are called cilia and they filter the dust and particles and bad stuff,” she said. “If it gets too much, the lungs get irritated and the mucus glands react by producing more mucus, hence more phlegm production and more coughing. The airways may get inflamed or irritated.”

She says those symptoms cause problems for everyone as breathing can be impacted, but it puts those with asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at greatest risk.

“I would recommend stay at home, closing their windows, turning on their air condition, and if they plan to go out, they should wear masks,” See said.

She recommends n95 or p100 rated masks, to filter out the small particles.

Folks should also be sure to change their air conditioning filters, avoid vacuuming if they are having trouble breathing and also avoid frying foods.

For the general public, she advises avoidance as well.

“We generally recommend avoiding strenuous activity outdoors, running or hiking, anything with lung exposure,” she said.

Hydration is also critical during hot smoky days.

“Making sure that you are staying hydrated and drinking lots of fluids, and also making sure to have at least a five day supply for those on medication,” she said.

Air quality can change rapidly and you don’t want to be forced out into it if its bad.

For those driving in the smoke, she encourages turning the air conditioning onto re-circulate so that you aren’t pumping in all the outdoor smoke.

To monitor local air quality ratings click here to go the Spokane Clean Air Agency website.