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Is the smoke blanketing L.A. dangerous? What can you do?

The smoke and haze that rolled into the L.A. area Thursday is coming from the Windy fire and the KNP Complex fire in the southern Sierra, meteorologists with the National Weather Service said.

The weather service said the smoke will stick around until Saturday; however, a strong onshore flow — wind moving from the direction of the ocean to the east — is expected to push the smoke out of the area over the weekend.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued an air quality advisory for the San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains and the San Jacinto Mountains. AirNow, which uses the official U.S. air quality index, reported the air quality in Los Angeles area to be moderate as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

The smoke might not seem so bad from your window view, but it’s important to remember that exposure to wildfire smoke can be a health threat.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, smoke is made up of a mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. The biggest threat from the mix is fine particles that can penetrate deep into your lungs.

The fine particles can cause health problems, including burning eyes, runny nose and aggravated chronic heart and lung disease, according to the EPA.

The elderly, children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to problems from polluted air. You’re also at higher risk of problems from smoke if you have heart or lung disease or diabetes.

If you’re looking to keep the air in your home clean from wildfire smoke, here are a few things you can do:

  • Monitor the air: Keep an eye on the air quality in your neighborhood by signing up for notifications from your local air quality district. For Southern California, that’s the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which has a smartphone app, or national agencies such as AirNow.
  • Stay indoors: If the air quality in your community is poor, stay inside and close all windows and doors. Put damp rags at the base of doors or windows that could let in outside air.
  • Create a clean air room: Dedicate one room in your home to be a “clean room” by closing all windows and doors and running a HEPA air purifier. DIY air filters can also be safe and effective.
  • Stay safe outside: If you have to go outside, wear an N95 mask if you have one. Other face coverings are not as effective. Avoid outdoor exercise.

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