Seattle air quality third worst in the world

SEATTLE — All of the Pacific Northwest is under a blanket of bad air. The air quality is the third-worst in the world, according to Switzerland based IQ Air.

Residents should stay inside, but that is not an option for many.

The sky, it seems, is enveloped in an impenetrable layer of smoke.

“Well, it’s a little ironic that I’m standing outside without a mask,” Dr. Stephen Morris said, “but this air quality is very poor.”

Morris, an emergency room physician at Harborview Medical Center, says the air is a definite health risk.

“That means that the smoke itself, which is particulate matter in the air, can cause inflammation and irritation in the lungs and that can have consequences.”

Many people are working outside in the murky mess.

Bad air can even affect a Metro driver at least before boarding the bus.

“In the morning, yes, it’s hard,” Mustaphe Kaid said. “When you wake up, your eyes open. Yeah, I feel it.”

A map posted on NASA’s website vividly shows a blanket of smoke over land, but it is over the Pacific Ocean, too. Even the coast is under a shroud.

“This is a time of extreme anxiety,” Morris said. “People are very anxious about so many things. This virus and the smoke-related to it is certainly not helping.”

He says if staying inside isn’t an option, residents should make sure to wear a mask, because of poor air quality and also the pandemic.

“The masks, as well as providing health benefits, can provide comfort and reduce that overall anxiety,” he added.

Morris said the best mask for outdoor work is a N95 mask or P100, but any mask is better than none.

State climatologist Nick Bond said the smoke also is responsible for Saturday’s colder temperatures. It is so thick it kept the sun at bay all day, keeping temperatures several degrees lower than normal on what should have been a sunny, mid-September day.