YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- The air quality is getting worse across the valley but some in our community still have to work outside in it.
Local farm workers say they can't just skip picking fruit on days when the air quality is poor because the crops will go bad.
"It's not fun, nothing healthy to work in," said local fruit picker Michael Solis.
He said the poor air quality makes it harder to work in the orchards. Solis said he starts feeling symptoms from the bad air within an hour of being outside.
"The eyes sting a lot and it makes it difficult for one to breath, it's heavy on the chest," he said.
Solis said he still works eight hours a day in these conditions because it's his job but he does try to take breaks more frequently and stay hydrated.
Local farmer John Thompson of Thompson Farms said he has about 10 workers out picking pears in the orchards. He said he provides all of his workers with respirator masks when the air quality is bad but most of them choose not to wear them because it can make it even harder to breathe when working outside.
"You see people wear these masks but because they're working in this humidity, wearing that thing on your face, it doesn't work so they have them hanging around their chin," Thompson said.
Thompson said he is surprised to see the air so smokey right now. He said this time of the year they usually only have to worry about working in the heat and humidity.
Thompson said he and his workers are feeling the difference outside but they are trying their best to work through it.
"When you walk out the door, if you're leaving a house with air conditioning, filtered air, you immediately know you're in a different environment," he said. "But after 15 minutes, it's let's go after it, cause it don't bother me after that."
Thompson said the poor air quality does not impact his crops, just him and his crews working outside.