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Air Quality Alert extended for most of western Washington until Thursday

The air quality around the Puget Sound region is expected to remain or become unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy until at least Thursday.

SEATTLE — An Air Quality Alert is in effect for most of western Washington until Thursday evening due to wildfire smoke.

The alert was set to expire Monday morning but was extended until 5 p.m. Thursday due to multiple fires burning in the Cascades.

The air quality around the Puget Sound region is expected to remain or become unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said Monday morning that the smoke impacts were expected to worsen Tuesday and Wednesday “until stronger winds arrive later this week.” However, smoke may linger until Thursday.

RELATED: Western Washington Forecast

The National Weather Service (NWS) said the air quality near the Cascade Valleys may further diminish by Thursday, especially for areas near wildfires.

“Everyone, especially sensitive groups, should limit time spent outdoors, avoid strenuous activities outdoors, and choose light indoor activities,” the NWS said.

As of Tuesday night, data from the Department of Ecology showed the air quality was unhealthy for much of the Puget Sound region and north and south along the Interstate 5 corridor. 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 also issued an Air Quality Advisory Monday for Indian Reservations in western Washington due to the elevated pollution levels from wildfire smoke.

The EPA said the Nooksak, S’Klallam, Suquamish, Nisqually, Chehalis, Squaxin, Skokomish, Puyallup, Muckleshoot, Tulalip, Stillaguamish, Sauk-Suiattle, Upper Skagit, and Lummi reservations are included in the advisory.

The EPA said sensitive groups, which include people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and pregnant people, should avoid outdoor exertion and minimize exposure to smoke as much as possible during the alert.

Multiple fires, including the Chilliwack Area and Bolt Creek, are the cause of all the smoke. Crews are fighting the Bolt Creek Fire with a consumption strategy - essentially allowing the fire to burn, which reduces erosion and creates safer conditions for those crews. 

The Nakia Creek Fire in Clark County is also creating poor air quality levels in parts of southeast Washington.

Due to severe fire conditions, campfires, briquette fires or stove fires are prohibited throughout Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. In addition, smoking is also prohibited outside enclosed buildings or vehicles.

Click here for the latest fire and burn ban information from the Department of Ecology.

What to know about diminished air quality: 

Wildfire smoke can cause health issues, especially for sensitive groups, including infants, children, people over 65, those who are pregnant, have heart or lung diseases, respiratory infections, diabetes, stroke survivors or those suffering from COVID-19, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

The agency recommends the following amid diminished air quality: 

  • Limit time outdoors and stock up on necessities like food, medication and other items.
  • Outfit your home's HVAC system with a high-efficiency HEPA filter to keep indoor air clean. 
  • Make a filter fan to help clean indoor air with a box fan, a furnace filter and a bungee cord or tape.
  • If you have an air conditioner, close the fresh air intake if available so you can keep smoky air out of your home.

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