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    Local Air Quality Up in Smoke…Again

    Local Air Quality Up in Smoke…Again

    Photo By Douglas Stutz | Cast in a smoky pale...from Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command Bremerton on the...... read more read more

    Local wildfires have blanketed Puget Sound – again - triggering an air quality index which ranked as the worst in the world, Oct. 19-20, 2022.

    Multiple wildfires in the Cascades Range, including at the Navy’s Jim Creek Recreation Area near Arlington, Washington, have cast a smoky pale across the region, home to the nation’s third largest fleet concentration.

    Snohomish County residents are openly concerned on the inability to breathe outdoors as Naval Station Everett firefighters along with local community fire responders continue to battle a fire on Wheeler and Blue Mountains at the Jim Creek Recreation Area.

    How bad it is?

    “Worst I’ve ever seen here,” stated Cmdr. Andrew Rutledge, Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit Everett officer-in-charge. “Inside it’s not bad. Some vents have the ash/campfire scent. No exercising outside. Patients and staff seem okay, but we’re put out that we have N95s [respirator protective device] to assist.”

    Air quality alerts have been issued throughout the area by Washington State Department of Ecology from Oct. 18, until midnight, Oct. 20, 2022, following a previous similar smoky situation in early September.

    The air quality measured at 238, Oct. 20 in Seattle was the world’s unhealthiest, leading a top five list which included Portland, Oregon, Beijing, China, Delhi, India and Lahore, Pakistan.

    Air Quality Index is a measurement tool, much like a thermometer. The higher the reading of a variety of pollutants from carbon monoxide to particulate matter, the greater the threat to personal health.

    According to the U.S. Air Quality Index, 0 to 50 as good, 51 to 100 as moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups 101-150; the unhealthy range from 150 to 200, very unhealthy 201 to 300; and anything over 300 is in the hazardous range.

    The air quality is expected to linger or become unhealthy for sensitive groups such as adults over 65, young children, those already dealing with heart and lung disease, respiratory issues, diabetes, and currently pregnant.

    There are also a host of potential associated health risks that mirror COVID-19 symptoms, especially for those susceptible to respiratory and cardiovascular system ailments.

    “Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles and can make anyone sick. Symptoms of breathing in smoke can include coughing, trouble breathing normally, scratchy throat, stinging eye, runny nose, irritated sinuses, wheezing, chest pain, headaches, asthma attack, tiredness, and fast heartbeat,” explained Cmdr. Carolyn Ellison, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton Director for Public Health.

    Rutledge noted that almost all the ships docked along the pier at Naval Station Everett were in a shrouded haze. Wearing an N95 made a big difference but still felt like an ashy-throat sensation.

    “Without the N95, really smells like a campfire. Lt. Andrew Sansone, our environmental health officer mentioned that at these levels the micro-particle matter affects even healthy folk’s blood stream. [it’s] Nasty.”

    For Terry Lerma, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton emergency manager, the hazy conditions invoked a childhood memory from decades ago.

    “Growing up in Los Angeles, we would have smog alerts due to the air pollution. There were stages. When it reaches the one stage when we couldn’t play football outside, we knew it wasn’t good,” reminisced Lerma.

    Feeling the current sensation of tightness in the chest trying to get a full breath prompted that past recall for Lerma.

    “People need to understand that air quality is something out of our control. However, there are things they can control regarding their activities and addressing any health concerns,” said Lerma. “People who have any respiratory issues such as COPD, or emphysema should be aware on restricting their personal activities and consider measures to try and assist with filtering the air in their homes. Cleaning the filters will help keep fresher, cleaner air inside their homes.”

    Rain is expected over the weekend. But it’s not here yet.

    “Can’t wait for the rain,” Rutledge added.

    What can someone do to lessen air pollutants at home, work and play?

    Ellison affirmed to follow such general health tips when the air is smoky such as what NMRTU Everett has advocated to their staff; Stay indoors as much as possible and avoid vigorous outdoor activities.

    “Stay informed with real-time air quality [index] monitoring to know what the situation is in your area. Several websites provided this information readily such as Washington State Department of Ecology at,” added Ellison.



    Date Taken: 10.20.2022
    Date Posted: 10.20.2022 16:21
    Story ID: 431751
    Location: BREMERTON , WA, US 

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