air quality

It's an unusually bad wild fire season in the West, and for weeks people across the region have been breathing air thick with smoke.

"There's smoke from Canada, smoke from Idaho, smoke from California and Montana. There's smoke everywhere," says Greg Svelund, a spokesman for Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality.

Inland Journal, August 10, 2017

Aug 10, 2017

This week on Inland Journal...
    ▪    We talk with a Chelan state legislator about regulating marijuana in Washington. With Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sparring over the state's pot law enforcement, Republican Representative Cary Condotta says the state is actually doing a good job regulating reefer.
    ▪    We’ll report on a dilemma for liquor retailers in Washington that want to create their own ‘private labels’. Some retailers, such as Costco and Fred Meyer, have been selling their brands, but they’re technically illegal. We’ll look into the situation.
    ▪    We'll learn how new sensors installed on power poles around Spokane are helping researchers learn about air pollution, including wildfire smoke, in the city.
    ▪    And Austin Jenkins from the Northwest News Network will tell us about an upcoming rape trial involving a former top official from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with allegations that the work culture in one part of the agency was toxic for women.

Streetlight Sensors Measure Spokane Air Quality

Aug 10, 2017
spokaneudistrict.org

For the last several days, you’ve seen with your own eyes the wildfire smoke that is hovering over our region. But other sets of ‘eyes’ have also been ‘seeing’ that smoke and taking samples of it. Among those ‘eyes’ are three sensors that sit on the tops of streetlight poles in Spokane’s University District. Brian Lamb, a professor of atmospheric research at Washington State University, says all of the sensors are showing elevated levels of particulates from the smoke.

But, Lamb says, when the smoke is gone, the sensors show some interesting air quality differences that confirm the phenomenon that we know as microclimates.

The wildfire smoke in Washington state has been extreme for days now, and many are wondering just when the air might clear out. An atmospheric scientist from the Washington Department of Ecology thinks the severe wildfire smoke may start to clear out a bit by Thursday for the western part of the state, but linger longer in the east. According to Ranil Dahmmapala,  “The good news is from the weekend onward, there’s a good chance for a pattern shift, and we might have southwest winds to blow some of the smoke away and keep the British Columbia smoke away for a while.”

A summer filled with wildfires means air conditions in the Northwest are going from bad to worse. Fires from British Columbia and around Washington state have contributed to a smoky week.

Like a dreamy scene, the Yakima Valley is blanketed in thick haze. But the reality is not so serene. Coupled with high temperatures and humidity, the smog is taking its toll on local residents.