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Air quality upgraded to hazardous levels

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Surrounding wildfires have coated our region in a blanket of thick smoke.

Melissa Rhein is an air quality analyst for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, she said, "If you have asthma, if you're very young, infants, children, toddlers, the elderly, people that have heart conditions, of course those are the people that are first to see impacts."

But, with the hazardous levels we're seeing being outside can pose a risk for anyone. This means that people without any respiratory illnesses may start to feel the effects of the smoke, like itchy eyes, running nose, trouble breathing and even headaches. "Once we get to the levels we're seeing now, then everyone should start limiting their activity," said Rhein.

She said, the best way to protect yourself is simple, stay indoor as much as possible. “Avoiding activities outdoors, limiting yourself on whether it's exercise or even just doing day to day chores outside."

For those who cannot avoid going outside you can pick up a particulate blocking mask from a hardware store. For the mask to help prevent the symptoms of breathing in smoke it should be labeled as an N95 mask, and properly fit your face.

Come Thursday, weather patterns are expected to change and bring minor relief... But many are asking, when will the smoke be completely clear? Rhein answered, "Which, may not happen until we've had a season ending event, which would be like snow in October or November in those elevations, or a large rain storm."

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