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Northwest Smoke Makes Air In Some Areas Worse Than L.A.

Anna King


About a dozen wildfires are still burning in the Northwest keeping the air hazy and unhealthy. But experts predict few, if any, long-term health effects.

Matthew Kadlec is a toxicologist for Washington’s Department of Ecology. He says the wildfire smoke in much of the Northwest isn’t enough to worry most healthy adults. But in many areas there is concern for seniors, children and people who have asthma or illnesses.

In fact, Kadlec says in Wenatchee the smoke particulates are worse than a certain sprawling California city.

“The people in L.A. have high levels," Kadlec says. "They’re not usually anywhere near what the people in Wenatchee are having. But it would be somewhere in between L.A. and being a smoker.”

Kadlec says the short acute, burst of particulates to Northwest residents right now has a different health effect than L.A.’s persistent smog.

Residents in Wenatchee say the smoke feels oppressive. Many people there are taking smoke vacations to other areas and are buying air filter systems for their homes.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio

Photos by Vince Patton / OPB