Advice for working in smoky air

You have probably noticed the smoky air in our region. Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the agency that oversees outdoor air quality, is reporting air quality levels as UNHEALTHY for everyone possibly through much of this week. Their latest press release includes more information about what to expect.

Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health problems, including chest pain, coughing, fast heartbeat, headaches, and asthma attacks.


With our current unhealthy air conditions, it’s recommended that you limit your time outdoors. If you are concerned about doing field work in these conditions, please talk with your supervisor about the actions below.

Here are some recommendations while we remain under these conditions: 

  • Adjust your schedule and perform desk work the next couple days
  • Alter your schedule to conduct field work later this week (smoke should improve later in the week)
  • If you absolutely must work in the field – reduce outdoor work to a minimum, take frequent breaks in air conditioned locations (e.g., library, community center, grocery store), reduce drive times, close the windows and recirculate air (see below).
  • Wearing a face mask can help, but must be worn properly with the correct mask – N95 or N100 – Air mask fact sheet
  • Wearing a mask at work.

Here are some additional tips when you’re at home or commuting:

  • Stay indoors when possible.
  • Limit your physical activity outdoors, such as running, bicycling, physical labor, and sports.
  • Close windows in your home, if possible, and keep the indoor air clean. If you have an air conditioner, use the “recirculation” switch. Use an indoor air filter if available.
  • If you do not have an air conditioner, consider finding a public place with clean, air-conditioned indoor air, like a public library or a community center.
  • Avoid driving, when possible. If you must drive, keep the windows closed. If you use the car’s fan or air conditioning, make sure the system recirculates air from inside the car; don’t pull air from outside.

Additional links that may be helpful: