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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Pro tip: Don’t go out when it’s raining ash

With smoke from wildfires filling Seattle’s skies, Dr. Jeff Duchin has some advice for people with respiratory conditions, pregnant women, diabetics, old people, infants and children: Don’t go out.

“These people should avoid exercising certainly in smoky conditions and if possible try not to go out until the air clears,” he said.

That might be tough. Major fires are burning east (Jolly Mountain) and southeast (Norse Peak Complex) of the Puget Sound region. They sent down a rain of ash Tuesday morning, and produced a blood-red sun at dawn.

Duchin is health officer with Public Health Seattle King County. He rode his bike into work Tuesday.

“I had a lot of particulate in my eyes,” he said.

Duchin said the particulate level was rated as only moderate, which surprised him: “I would have expected a little bit higher.”

Still, he said, people with sensitivities shouldn’t be out there.

The National Weather Service issued an air quality alert in effect through Wednesday afternoon.

It said conditions in the Puget Sound region are expected to improve Wednesday as marine air pushes the smoke back east. (More at Washington Smoke Information.)

So what should you do if you let the smoke get in your eyes?

“Over the counter eye drops, if you like that, but most people, the natural tears will wash the particulates out,” Duchin said.

Produced for the Web by Gil Aegerter.