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As Air Quality Dips, a Warning for Your Health

Tim Durkan

The spectacular sunsets we've been enjoying recently have a downside: they’re indicators of increasing air pollution.

Pollution has risen to unhealthy levels around Puget Sound this week. State health officials say pollution often goes up in the winter.

“Warm air sits on top of cold air, and it traps pollutants near the ground,” says Judy Bardin, an epidemiologist at the Washington Department of Health. ”So when you see these cold, still days, air pollution can build up. Those are times when people are also heating with wood.”

That pollution is particularly bad for people with lung conditions, including asthma.

At times when air pollution is higher, they should limit their outdoor activities, or if they choose activities, choose something less strenuous, like going for a walk instead of a run,” Bardin said.

See a real-time map of pollution hotspots >>>

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.