The air finally started to clear Tuesday, but the state Department of Ecology predicted that the smoke that has blanketed the area might linger a little longer before it’s completely gone.

Due to winds still coming from the south, where wildfires have been extreme, smoke has been lasting here longer than anticipated.

Smoke was a problem for this region in 2017 and 2018, but 2019 was largely unaffected. Then comes 2020, and the smoke is dragging on, said Seth Preston, a spokesman with Northwest Air Quality Center.

Parts of Washington, Oregon and California have all been deeply affected by wildfires all over the region, contributing to widespread smoke hovering across the Northwest.

This has caused poor air quality in various parts of Washington and can be highly unhealthy for humans and animals, according to the Air Quality Center.

Wildfire smoke contains small particles and gases such as carbon monoxide, which can get into the eyes or lungs and cause health problems, according to the state Department of Health.

This also means that everyone could be at risk for serious health problems. Even the healthiest individual could experience breathing problems due to poor air quality, Preston said. Inhaling smoke could damage lung tissue and cause heart issues. It also could aggravate pre-existing conditions such as asthma.

“Everybody should consider limiting going outside as much as possible, and if they do have to go outside, they should severely limit strenuous activity,” Preston said.

PeaceHeath shared a press release with several 

ways for people to keep themselves safe.

Among the suggestions:

Keep windows and doors closed as well as using a wet cloth to plug the cracks where smoke might sneak through.

Clean the air inside homes with a portable fan with a HEPA or MERV-13 filter to trap pollutants;

Stay inside, but if you must go out, be aware that cloth masks that protect against spreading COVID-19 virus do not protect from inhaling wildfire smoke. 

Masks that protect from smoke are mask respirators like NIOSH with N95 or P100, according to a post on the PeaceHealth website.

The lingering smoke has caused COVID-19 drive-through testing centers to close in Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Wildfire smoke can cause an increased risk for lung infections such as COVID-19, according to a post on PeaceHealth website. 

People who have the virus might be at a higher risk for negative health effects.

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