Environmental Health

Hazards & Toxics

We protect our community’s health from harmful substances.

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Outdoor Air Quality

Burn Bans

Preparing for Wildfire Smoke

For the last several years, Whitman County has experienced wildfire smoke that has led to poor air quality, including days of "unhealthy for sensitive groups" or "unhealthy for everyone" rankings.

Annual preparations for wildfire smoke impacts can help Whitman County residents mitigate the effects of wildfire smoke on their health and daily routines.

Health effects from smoke can vary greatly from person to person.

Smoke contains tiny particles that are bad for your lungs, heart, sinuses and other parts of your body. Those with underlying medical conditions like asthma feel them the most. But everybody should pay attention to their own health when smoke is in the air.

Protection from poor air quality & wildfire smoke

  • Check local air quality reports and listen to news or health warnings for your community.
  • Avoid physical exertion outdoors if smoke is in the air.
  • If you have asthma or other lung diseases, make sure you follow your doctor's directions about taking your medication and following your asthma management plan. Call your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen.
  • Stay indoors and keep the indoor air as clean as possible. Take the following steps when indoors:
    • Keep windows and doors closed. Track air quality and open your windows for fresh air when the air quality improves.
    • Run an air conditioner, set it to re-circulate and close the fresh air intake. Make sure to change filters regularly.
    • Use an air cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce indoor air pollution. A HEPA filter will reduce the number of irritating fine particulates in indoor air. A HEPA filter with charcoal will help remove some of the gases from the smoke. Do not use an air cleaner that produces ozone. For more information visit EPA Indoor Air Filtration Factsheet.
    • Don't add to indoor air pollution. Don't use food boilers, candles, incense, fireplace or gas stoves. Don't vacuum unless your vacuum has a HEPA filter, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Don't smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.