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The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures the air quality of a specific area and is used to provide guidance for outdoor activity. You can view the interactive map for Washington AQI here. Air quality can be impacted for many reasons, including pollen, smoke or pollution. Even if the fire is not very close, smoke can  be an issue. Indoor air quality can be also be impacted by cleaning supplies, smoking/vaping or wood heating. 

Visit for up-to-date information about the local AQI


Temperature inversions happen when the air closer to the earth is colder than the air higher in the atmosphere. Usually, the air gets colder the higher you go. When the air gets warmer as you go up, the colder air gets “trapped”. The inversion makes it harder for air pollutants to rise and negatively impact air quality. Fog or smog can indicate a temperature inversion. Wind, a rainstorm or the temperature rising closing to the earth can clear an inversion. Valleys and coastal areas are more likely to experience a weather inversion but they can happen anywhere. An inversion can cause respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain or asthma attacks. Stay indoors and reduce outdoor exposure as needed. 

Effects from wildfire smoke

You may experience:

  • burning eyes
  • coughing
  • throat or sinus irritation
  • running nose
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • wheezing/shortness of breath
  • irregular or fast heartbeat
  • chest pain

Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with asthma and the elderly may experience more severe side effects from the smoke and should take extra precautions to stay indoors as much as possible. 

If your symptoms are severe, seek medical attention. Staying indoors, using an air filter and keeping doors and windows closed can help limit exposure. You can also wear an N95 mask or respirator if you need to be outside. Avoid adding to indoor air pollution by avoiding candles, incents or smoking/vaping if smoke is also impacting indoor air. 

Drink lots of water and stay hydrated. 

School activities and smoke- updated July 2023

In order to keep all children safe and healthy, schools and childcare facilities may cancel or reschedule outdoor activities if the air quality is unsafe. Once the AQI reaches 101, schools may begin to cancel athletic activities (games or practice).  When the AQI is above 150 it is strong recommended that all outdoor activities including PE, recess and athletic events be canceled, rescheduled or moved indoors. Indoor activity may also be limited if the indoor air quality is poor.

At risk populations

Poor air quality can be especially dangerous for pregnant people, babies, those over 65 and anyone with asthma, heart disease or lung disease. Individuals more at risk may consider reducing outdoor activities at the “moderate” or “unhealthy for sensitive groups” levels. 

Consider keeping extra food, water and at least 3 days of medication on hand in case you are unable to leave your home due to poor air quality. 

If you have trouble breathing contact your healthcare provider or call 911.