As we all know, the past couple of years the PNW has been badly affected by wildfires. There are many hazardous chemicals in wildfire smoke, the main harmful pollutant for people who are not very close to the fire is “particulate matter,” the tiny particles suspended in the air. The particles of concern are identified as “PM2.5”.
Breathing in the “particulate matter” can lead to a range of health problems including:
• Persistent coughing • Phlegm • Wheezing
• Difficulty breathing • Bronchitis • Aggravated Asthma
• Heart Failure • Reduced lung function • Death
The greater the concentration of particulate matter in the air, the greater the respiratory hazard is for you. The exposure to wildfire smoke is increasing every year and potentially presents serious health risks to all workers, especially those who work outside.
We have created a new policy that puts forth the procedures and appropriate actions for protecting you, our employees. We recognize that everyone is going to have different and varying levels of sensitivity to the wildfire smoke, some groups may be more sensitive to the smoke due to underlying health conditions while others may not. We encourage each employee to monitor the air quality levels and determine their own health risks and levels of sensitivity, by visiting the AirNow.gov or the Air Quality Map website on your phone.
The table below represents the action levels we will follow when a health warning has been issued for hazardous air quality.