Is the air as unhealthy as it looks?

One study predicts a 35 percent spike in hospital asthma admissions in this state due to this week’s wildfire smoke. So far, nothing close to that has been reported. We seem to be coping OK with the unhealthy air and unsightly skies.

Some burning eyes, a raspy throat.

Puget Sounders, you’ll manage just fine to get through all that British Columbia wildfire smoke that’s enveloped our region.

As of Friday, Day 4 of headlines such as, “Seattle’s air quality is worse than Beijing, Kolkata,” this was the case:

No increase in asthma-related admission to 19 hospital emergency rooms surveyed by Public Health – Seattle-King County. Asthma patients are among the first to feel the effects of polluted air.

And, says Susan Gregg, spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center, “We haven’t seen an influx of patients coming in due to air-quality issues.”

“For lots of people, it’ll be a temporary irritant,” says Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health here.

It’s not like panicked Seattleites are swarming hardware stores to buy a $2 paper respirator.

“I’ve probably had three or four customers ask for them,” says Willow Yoder, manager of the Greenwood True Value. “They were people doing some running.”

Still, plenty of the respirators are in stock, she says.

This is not to minimize the effects of all that smoke coming down from more than 1.2 million acres of forest, bush and grassland that have been torched, the second-worst B.C. fire season in recorded history in terms of land destroyed.

One in 12 people in this country suffers from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Anecdotally,” says James Apa, spokesman for the agency, Medic One has reported in recent days its paramedics “stabilizing at home” people with asthma symptoms. And patients with emphysema have ended up in the hospital, he says.

And asthma specialist Dr. Matthew Altman, an assistant professor at the University of Washington’s Department of Medicine, says he’s been hearing from some of his 100 patients.

“They’re reporting an aggravation of symptoms, shortness of breath, cough,” he says.

We can expect a big spike in the purchase of asthma prescription drugs, according to a British Columbia study published in 2013. It studied effects of wildfires in that province from 2003 to 2010.

The study shows a direct correlation between increased…

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