Seattle’s air quality among worst in world for second day in a row

SEATTLE — Heavy smoke from wildfires continues to reduce air quality in Seattle and Western Washington, and an air quality alert has been extended for a second time.

On Thursday, the poor air quality landed Seattle the top spot for the worst air quality in the world among major cities for the second day in a row, according to IQAir’s air quality and pollution city ranking.

After starting Wednesday in the top 5, Seattle fluctuated up and down in the top 15 before taking the top spot in the afternoon. On Thursday, Seattle started at #2, with Portland, Oregon at #1, but by 8 a.m. was once again at #1.

By 10:30 p.m. Thursday night, Seattle had fallen back to #2, with Beijing, China at #1.

Since Friday evening, most of Western Washington has been under an air quality alert, which was supposed to end Monday afternoon, but was extended until 5 p.m. Thursday. On Wednesday afternoon, the air quality alert was extended again, this time until midnight Thursday.

Wildfires have compromised air quality on and off for weeks. Two of the largest fires are the Bolt Creek Fire near Skykomish, that has burned more than 14,000 acres and is about 43% contained, and the Loch Katrine Fire about 30 miles east of Seattle, that has burned more than 1,200 acres.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency issued a wildfire smoke alert for the Puget Sound region, saying wildfire smoke will cause the air quality to rise to unhealthy levels near active fires. That alert remains in effect.

At the Downtown Park in Bellevue, people were still making the rounds once the sun came up Wednesday morning.

Harshit “Hoss” Manoch said the air quality numbers were jarring when he left his home in the early morning.

“It’s pretty bad, actually!” he said. “I came from my home right now and I realized AQ is 173!”

But Manoch didn’t let the conditions keep him from his morning exercise.

“I’m on a morning run, it’s a daily routine,” he said.

Wearing a Paris Saint-Germain soccer jersey, Manoch kept to his run but also admitted that the smoke and haze was having an impact.

Motioning to his nose and head, he said, “I do feel the smoke in here, I do feel a little inside with the smoke coming in. It’s not good for sure.”

“You really do have to take care of yourself in this weather, especially people who are allergic or asthmatics,” Deepali Saxena said as she made her morning walk in the park.

Saxena told KIRO 7 that’s she’s a yoga instructor and that her exercise involves deep breathing and breathing exercises. She said a few really deep breaths in the morning can help nearly everyone, but with air quality in question it might be best to do it indoors.

“Very gently, normal breathing. Just try it because whatever we inhale we don’t exhale at that count,” said Saxena.

Hadene Klassnik was walking her dog, Yogi Bear, in Bellevue’s Downtown Park early Wednesday. She says she comes outside every single day to walk her dog regardless of the conditions, though the air quality has been difficult for days.

“It’s not much, fun is it?” she said.

KIRO 7′s crew approached her with questions about air quality and the Bellevue resident just groaned and admitted the haze around her home was ruining what normally is a beautiful setting.

“I took a picture and sent it to my husband. He’s in Spain at the moment and he said, ‘What! Can’t even see the lake,” said Klassnik.

Some of the worst air quality markers have been on the Eastside during this latest stretch of smoke and haze, but Klassnik is still taking it in stride, saying, “it could be worse.”

Manoch also is holding out hope that the haze and poor air quality will end soon.

“Two more days. Rain is coming in, so waiting for that,” said Manoch.

Places registering as having hazardous air quality as of Wednesday morning were in Snoqualmie, where a brush fire broke out on Wednesday morning, Skykomish, near the Bolt Creek Fire, and a location in Bellingham.

Luckily, rain is forecast to move into the region on Friday, when air quality should improve.

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