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Washington air quality suffering during wildfire season, more haze on the way

The smoky sky filters the evening sun on Friday night during wildfire season 2017. (Reader submitted photo)

Wildfire season in Washington state is off to an aggressive start. The state’s Department of Health is urging people to start preparing for poor air quality from heavy smoke as more haze is on the way from California and Oregon.

RELATED: Start preparing for smoke days

The National Weather Service warns that more wildfire smoke is en route to Washington state. That smoke will arrive Thursday morning and through the afternoon.

Air quality has been worsening across Washington. The Department of Health suggests that people in smoky areas should keep an eye out for shortness of breath, coughing, headaches and any eye, nose, and throat irritation. The smoke can pose increased health risks for children, seniors, and pregnant women, as well as people with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

The warning comes not long after a University of Washington study concluded that Washington residents will have to start preparing for “smoke days” just like they do for power outages and snow days. So far in 2018 alone, there have been 1,711 fires that have burned 109,000 acres on DNR land.

The central and eastern parts of the state have been hit the hardest so far, with air quality ranging from moderate to unhealthy.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency reports that air is good in most of King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Pierce Counties. But it degrades the closer one gets to the Cascades. Communities near North Bend and Enumclaw had unhealthy air for sensitive groups Wednesday evening. Air quality was generally moderate in Whatcom and Skagit Counties.

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