Smoke from wildfires burning to the north is affecting air quality in the Spokane area, prompting officials from Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) and Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air) to remind residents to take precautions to protect their health.
As of this morning, the air quality monitors in Spokane are reporting levels of fine particulate matter pollution in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” or “Orange” category of the Air Quality Index (AQI).
Spokane Clean Air’s air quality forecaster says winds from the north and northeast are transporting wildfire smoke to our area from the various regional wildfires. A strong high pressure ridge will remain over the region well into next week, bringing generally light winds and continued high temperatures and abundant smoke-filtered sunshine. Air quality will worsen at night as smoke concentrates in valleys and improve slightly in the afternoon with increased wind speeds and mixing of the atmosphere.
The smoke is likely to remain with us into next week. Clearing the smoke from the region will require a change in the weather pattern with winds from the west or southwest. Such a change is not expected for at least the next several days.
“Depending on the wind and wildfire activity, the Air Quality Index may fluctuate between Moderate (yellow) and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (orange) today and Thursday,” according to Stephanie May, public information specialist for Spokane Clean Air.
See www.spokanecleanair.org/news for more information.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is declaring a ban on all outdoor open burning on the Yakama Reservation due to stagnant air conditions and elevated air pollution, effective noon, August 2, 2017 through Monday August 7, 2017 unless extended.
The burn ban applies to all outdoor and agricultural burning—including camping and recreational fires—in all areas within existing reservation boundaries regardless of ownership or tribal membership. Ceremonial and traditional fires are exempt from the burn ban. For areas outside reservation boundaries, please contact your local clean air agency, fire department, or the Washington State Department of Ecology. EPA requests that reservation residents reduce all sources of air pollution as much as possible, including excess driving and idling of vehicles.
Air pollution can seriously harm your health. Community-wide cooperation during the ban will help people who are most at risk, including children, the elderly, pregnant women, people with asthma or difficulty breathing, diabetes, heart problems or whose breathing is otherwise compromised. Those sensitive groups should avoid outdoor exercise and minimize exposure to outdoor pollution as much as possible. Under the most severe pollution levels all residents should restrict their activities.
To check conditions now in your area, go to http://www.airnow.gov/
For current burn ban status, please visit https://waburnbans.net/, the tribal air quality office, or the EPA at 1-800-424-4372, or by email: R10_farrhotline@epa.gov.
Find more information online, go to https://www.epa.gov/farr