Key Agency Programs
Outdoor Air Quality Monitoring
We measure various outdoor air pollutants at monitoring stations throughout Spokane County. Each site provides hourly and daily readings of pollutant concentrations. This provides information on how well our region is meeting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Data and trends, along with meteorological data, enables us to notify the public when air quality is approaching unhealthful levels and to encourage clean air actions to help reduce pollution.
Asbestos from Renovation and Demolition Projects
We enforce federal and local asbestos control regulations to protect the public from exposure to asbestos during building renovation and demolition projects.
Commercial and Industrial Emissions
We work with local businesses to reduce air emissions, including:
- Registering (e.g. licensing) over 600 facilities annually
- Conducting on-site inspections of the registered facilities
- Issuing air quality permits (called Notices of Construction) to control air pollutant emissions at the source
- Assisting businesses, including on-site visits, compliance workshops and informational guidance materials
Complaint Response and Enforcement
We respond to complaints from citizens about air pollution that is affecting them, including odors. Complaints are forwarded to field staff for investigation and possible enforcement action. Most concerns voiced are regarding excessive smoke from outdoor burning and wood heating, as well as dust from roads and parking lots, and odors from a variety of operations.
Violations of air quality laws put public health and the environment at risk. We enforces federal, state and local air quality laws to protect communities and to keep our air healthy. These compliance and enforcement efforts also level the playing field by deterring violators who might otherwise have an unfair business advantage over environmentally compliant facilities and businesses.
Educational Resources, Community Outreach
We spread our clean air message by participating in community events, working with the media, and presenting at various business and non-profit group meetings. In addition to our community-wide outreach efforts, we offer educational resources for area students and educators from primary school through college. We also offer programs to youth organizations and summer camps.
Fine Particles of Smoke and Diesel Soot
Particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter suspended in outdoor air are called "fine" particulate matter or PM2.5. These particles are approximately 1/30th the width of a human hair.
While we've made progress with PM2.5 reductions over the years, we still have winter days with levels that threaten to exceed the standard. During the heating season, wood burning devices contribute more particle pollution than industry does all year long. In addition to wood smoke, diesel-powered vehicles and equipment are year-round sources.
Strategies to reduce fine particles include:
- Temporarily restricting wood heating and outdoor burning when particle levels approach health-based limits.
- Enforcing wood burning rules, including limits on chimney smoke opacity (density) and burn bans.
- Securing grant funding to replace old wood stoves and retrofit diesel engines.
- Promoting alternatives to outdoor burning, such as composting, chipping and mulching.
Learn more about air pollution in Spokane County.