People who suffer from chronic respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can get a free HEPA air purifier to help cope with the debilitating effects of smoky air.
The American Lung Association is giving out free air purifiers for people in Okanogan County and other eastern Washington counties. The air purifiers are available to people 65 and older with COPD (including chronic bronchitis and emphysema). The individuals must qualify as low-income (200% of the federal poverty guideline or less — below $24,980 a year for an individual).
The lung association has a limited number of purifiers, available on a first-come, first-served basis. The air purifiers are going fast — there were only six left as of Monday (Aug. 5). Since it announced the wildfire relief program at the end of July, the association received about 75 applications, although most were not from people who qualify for the air purifiers, according to Emma Gossard, health promotions coordinator for the lung association.
The association received about 45 requests in the second week of the program, most from Okanogan County. Other counties in the program are Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Grant, Pend Oreille and Stevens.
People who don’t qualify for a purifier — and those who apply after the supply is gone — will receive information about wildfire and lung health tailored to their needs.
The lung association has a website dedicated to the impacts of wildfire on respiratory health at lung.org/wildfires. It includes tips for protecting kids, on indoor air quality, and about symptoms to watch for.
There is free advice from registered nurses and respiratory therapists at 1-800-LUNGUSA (586-4872). The application for air purifiers is available at bit.ly/WAWildfireReliefRequest or by calling (206) 512-3291.