The winds are picking up around Central and Eastern Washington this spring which leads to possibilities of dust storms.

Department of Ecology Communications Manager Andrew Wineke says while the dirt part can be annoying, it's not their biggest concern.

"There's these tiny little particles called PM10 that if you breathe them in they can lodge deep in your lungs. Because they're so tiny, they're hard to get back out and that can lead to lung irritation which can certainly be a health problem. When we put out dust warnings, we're really looking out for your health. That's our concern. "

Wineke says among the best ways to protect yourself is to stay indoors and close windows, doors and vents during the storms.

"A lot of us are wearing masks these days and that can help, particularly an N95 mask that will filter that stuff out. Also, keep an eye on your friends and family. The most effected groups are who we're trying to protect, the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions. Look out for your community."

Ecology says that dust storms are occurring less frequently with farmers implementing practices that are better for the soil such as no-till, cover crops and establishing windbreaks.

To keep up with the latest conditions, follow Ecology on Twitter or check their website Ecology.WA.Gov.

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