Air improving; caution still advised

Health authorities said Friday that Pierce County’s air quality is getting better but still not out of the woods because of smoke from wildfires.

In a related move, officials loosened a burn ban and began allowing campfires and other recreational fires again.
The air quality is expected to improve during the next few days, according to the state Department of Ecology. But wildfires continue to burn in Washington and British Columbia, meaning conditions can change quickly.
Forecasters were calling for weather systems that would reduce the smoke and haze that has blanketed Pierce County and other areas. That’s “good news for everyone, especially people with heart and lung diseases,” said Judy Olsen, an environmental health specialist for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
At the same time, “everyone should stay informed about potential changes in air quality” due to the persistent fires, Olsen said.
Unhealthy air can especially afflict people who are most at risk of potential harmful health effects, including:
• People with heart and lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD.
• Adults over 65 years old.
• Children and infants.
• Pregnant women.
• Diabetics.
• Smokers.

Because of the improving air quality, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency lifted the air-quality burn ban for Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Snohomish counties. Charcoal barbecues, campfires, and bonfires are allowed again, officials said Friday.
The Pierce County fire marshal’s fire-safety burn ban remained in effect for residents of unincorporated parts of the county. The ban prohibits using fires to clear land lor get rid of yard debris.


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