This may not come as a surprise for anyone who's looked out the window today.
The Department of Environmental Quality has issued an orange air alert through Friday for Ada and Canyon counties, thanks to all that smoke being dumped into the Treasure Valley from wildfires all over the Western United States.
The DEQ is also preparing to issue a stage 1 air quality alert for every county in the state, smoke management program coordinator Mary Anderson said. That means all outdoor burning - campfires, agricultural fires, etc. - are banned.
An orange alert means sensitive groups the elderly, children or others with breathing difficulties should limit strenuous activities and try to stay indoors.
Two factors - a lot of large, long-lasting fires around the West and persistent stagnant air - have combined to compromise air quality for months in Idaho.
"I dont ever remember it being quite this bad," Anderson said.
While some areas in Idaho were subjected to worse air earlier this year, it hasn't been this bad across so much of the state.
Leaving the smoke behind isn't as simple as it sounds. Bad air from wildfires is so widespread throughout Idaho and our neighboring states that hunkering down might be a better option. To minimize impacts on your health, the Idaho Department of Health has a few suggestions:
Everyone should avoid heavy work or exercise outdoors when the air quality index reaches unhealthy levels.
Older adults, small children, and those with respiratory conditions or heart disease may be more sensitive to poor air quality and should stay indoors and avoid heavy work when air quality reaches unhealthy levels.
Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps dilute phlegm in the respiratory tract, making it easier to cough out smoke particles. Plan to cough; it is natures way of clearing your lungs. Avoid caffeine products, sugary drinks and alcohol because they have a dehydrating effect.
Stay cool if the weather is warm. Run your air conditioner to re-circulate air. Turn the fan blower to manual so it continuously filters the air in your home.
For homes without a central heating and/or cooling system, use portable air purifiers to remove particles (air purifiers that utilize HEPA filters are best; avoid using air purifiers that produce ozone).
Visit places in your community that have air conditioning, such as a library.
If you wear contact lenses, switch to eyeglasses in a smoky environment.
The forecasted Air Quality Index (AQI) for Friday is 115 because of PM2.5 particles. An index above 100 warrants an orange alert. The DEQ originally predicted a yellow (moderate) air quality day for Friday but changed it when more smoke than expected poured into the valley overnight.
An air quality reading taken at Saint Luke's Regional Medical Center in Meridian at 8 a.m. Friday showed an AQI level of 123.
The towns of Idaho City, Garden Valley, and Weiser are all under orange air Friday because of smoke from nearby wildfires. The towns of McCall and Salmon are under red air alert, which means the air is unhealthy for everyone.
Anderson said air quality may improve over the weekend, but not significantly.
The smoke covering the Treasure Valley is coming from all over the place, including the Wesley and Sheep fires in Idaho and from as far away as the 41,000-acre complex of fires near Wenatchee, Wash., north of Yakima.