BOISE, Idaho — A Red Air Quality Alert is currently in place for Ada, Canyon, Elmore, Adams, Boise, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley, and Washington counties because of wildfires burning in the area.
The effect is expected to last throughout Wednesday, with smoke that is primarily coming from wildfires burning in Oregon, Washington and California.
Officials say if you have any type of chronic heart or lung disease, including asthma, you should avoid going outside. The wildfire smoke can inflame and narrow airways, making it difficult to breathe.
Even if someone is otherwise healthy, Dr. Joe Coyle, who works in the Respiratory Care Department at Boise State University, told KTVB on Tuesday that it is best to stay indoors with the air conditioner on.
"What we are breathing here is the same kind of smoke you would be getting from a cigarette without the nicotine," Dr. Coyle said. "It’s got everything in terms of the carcinogens and carbon compounds that are in cigarettes."
Dr. Coyle adds that wearing a cloth mask will not protect you from the smoke. An N-95 mask, mainly used by healthcare workers, will help filter out smoke particles but not completely.