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What to know about the Puget Sound’s ‘unhealthy’ air quality; possible break on way?

TACOMA, Wash. -- Officials warned Wednesday that air quality for the entire Puget Sound region is unhealthy due to wildfire smoke.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Public Health-Seattle and King County, Snohomish Health District, Kitsap Public Health, and Tacoma-Pierce Health Department put out a joint release warning of the dangers of being outside.

The release said air pollution is increasing due to wildfire smoke and may cause health problems like:

Asthma Attacks
Trouble Breathing
Coughing
Stinging Eyes
Irritated sinuses
Headaches
Chest pain
Fast Heartbeat.

Officials say those are the effects a healthy person might feel. However, if you already have health issues, the effects of the air quality could be worse.

“You could have a heart attack, if you’re in those high-risk groups; you could have a stroke,” said Judy Olsen, environmental health supervisor with Tacoma-Pierce Health Department.

Olsen says those who need to be extra careful are people with asthma, or COPD, or a history of heart disease, or those who have had a stroke, or have been told they're at risk of a stroke.  She says the best way to protect yourself is to stay indoors.

In Tacoma, school districts moved all outdoor athletic practices inside due to the air quality.

However, not everyone is able to avoid going outside.

“What am I going to do about it? I got jobs to do. I got to work,” said Jessee Rankin, owner of Concrete Impressions.

On Wednesday, he and his crew were working outside. Rankin says he has not noticed any of the effects from the poor air quality, but some of his crews say they have.

Officials say driving can also cause issues. They say if you must drive, keep your windows closed, and if you use the air conditioning make sure the system recirculates the air.

Officials also say close your windows in your home. If you have an air conditioner, use the re-circulation switch.

Olsen says if you must have your windows open, you can buy a Hepa Filter. However, those devices can sell for hundreds of dollars.

Olsen says you can create your own device with an air filter, and a box fan. Tape the air filter to the box fan and then, Olsen says, put the fan in your open window to help prevent the particles from coming into your home.

In some good news, Q13 Chief Meteorologist Walter Kelley tweeted that the forecast for Thursday night shows some cleaner air coming in.