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Winthrop air quality becomes 'Hazardous', Spokane enters 'Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups' status

On Thursday, Winthrop had the second-worst air quality in the country and nearly 100 AQI points behind Paradise, California.

WINTHROP, Wash. — On Saturday morning, the air quality in Winthrop diminished so much that it entered the "hazardous" status. According to AirNow, everyone should stay indoors and reduce activity levels. 

Previously, Winthrop reached "unhealthy" air quality on Thursday. This placed Winthrop at the second-worst air quality in the country and nearly 100 AQI points behind Paradise, California. The AQI had reached 177 in Winthrop by 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, according to AirNow.

In Spokane, the air quality remains in the "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" category on Saturday morning. This status could mean members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected. 

AirNow said on its website that people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teens are most likely to be affected and should take certain steps to reduce exposure including

  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Keep outdoor activities short.
  • Consider moving physical activities indoors or rescheduling them.

Meanwhile, everyone else could be affected by the poor air quality as well. In order to stay safe they should:

  • Choose less strenuous activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard.
  • Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors.
  • Be active outdoors when air quality is better.

The air quality has been affected by the multiple wildfires throughout the Inland Northwest. In Okanogan County, both the Cub Creek 2 and Cedar Creek Fires continue to burn. The Cub Creek 2 Fire reaching over 35,000 acres. The Cedar Creek fire has grown to over 18,000 acres.

Here are some ways to protect you and your home from wildfire smoke:

  • Masks: N-95 and N-100 masks are the best to block smoke particles.
  • Get an air filter: Make sure it contains a HEPA filter, which can reduce smoke particles 
  • Designate a 'clean room': The health department recommends picking a “clean room” where you can spend time when it’s smoky outside, such as your bedroom. Ideally, the room would have few windows and doors and no fireplace. Plan on keeping your air filter in here. 
  • Keep medication handy: Everyone is susceptible to wildfire smoke, but some groups are at greater risk, including children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with illnesses, according to the health department. If you have heart or lung disease or asthma, ask your doctor what precautions you should take when spending time around wildfire smoke.
  • Reduce ventilation in your home:  Using the bathroom fan and using the fan over the stove while cooking brings in a lot of outside air.