If you are planning a late summer camping trip to the Pacific Northwest you may want to rethink your plans. Smoke and ash fill the air, not only making visibility poor, but just breathing is more than uncomfortable and can cause choking, eye irritation and a sore throat, as well as being hazardous to your health.
The city of Seattle and the surrounding area is experiencing collateral damage from a horrific fire season, with major wildfires burning in California, Oregon, and Canada, reports CBS News. A NASA satellite image shows smoke covering nearly 2 million acres burning in the U.S.
“This is the worst air quality we’ve had across the region since 2000,” said Craig Kenworthy, director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
Right now, it’s some of the worst air on Earth. Just spending the day outside is equivalent to smoking nearly eight-and-a-half cigarettes. At the moment, Washington and Oregon have the top five cities with the worst air quality in the nation — all listed as unhealthy. All that smoke is bad for the lungs, especially for the elderly and young children.
“We’ve noticed that over the last few days in particular, our numbers are ramping up, particularly in the emergency room,” said Dr. Elizabeth Meade, chief of pediatrics at Swedish Medical Center. “Most people are just complaining of difficulty breathing.”
That’s leading to more people wearing masks outdoors, potentially a new normal in years to come.
The wind is forecast to change directions later this week and blow much of the smoke away. But even then, it could take days for the skies to clear.