Children more vulnerable than adults to unhealthy air quality

SEATTLE -- At the Magnuson Park YMCA, jumping rope  inside is replacing scavenger hunts outside.

“It's absolutely a challenge, especially since we have 250-plus kids here every week,” Miranda Gadau said Monday.

So the YMCA has to get creative, partnering with other places to get all summer camps inside.

“We also sent some kids bowling and roller-skating so anything we can do to keep them inside and have fun,” Gadau said.

“Luckily for us, the YMCA of Greater Seattle has 13 locations across King County so we can take kids to gyms, we can take kids to indoor pools,” Andy Sharpe of YMCA said

Sharpe says summer camps will remain indoors until the air quality improves and for good reason.

“Kids have a higher respiratory rate just at baseline, so they tend to be more active and they breathe in, they breathe a lot compared to how small they are,” Dr. Elizabeth Meade at Swedish Children's said.

Meade says kids breathe in more particles per body weight compared to adults, so they are more vulnerable, even healthy kids.

“We do worry about infants and young kids being outside at all,” Meade said.

She says older kids should limit time practicing sports and playing outside.

Meade says prolonged exposure can lead to long-term problems.

“Development of asthma, development of chronic conditions -- we see people who live in areas where this is the norm actually have increased levels of risk for things like heart disease and stroke,” Meade said.

It's not anything kids should have to worry about but the adults in charge do.

“Sadly, it could be the new normal but we try to do everything we can to plan for contingencies like this,” Sharpe said.

Last year, YMCA says, they had to bring kids indoors because of bad air quality. Officials are just hoping, like the rest of us, the trend doesn’t continue every summer.