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ALA’s annual State of the Air report released today

April 24, 2024 – In its annual State of the Air report released today, the American Lung Association (ALA) is again ranking air quality in the Spokane metro area poorly for fine particle pollution. The ranking is based on air quality data over a three-year period (2020-2022), during which air quality failed to meet clean air standards for particle pollution on 20 days (5 days in 2020, 9 days in 2021, and 6 days in 2022). Nineteen of the 20 days were due to wildfire smoke, one day was due to a structure fire near a monitor.

“The annual ALA ranking is not favorable again this year, as expected,” according to Scott K. Windsor, executive director of the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

“While the overall air quality in Spokane County has improved significantly from the 1970s through the 1990s, we are now experiencing unhealthy air quality on some summer days due to wildfires,” added Windsor. “We are not alone. In fact, 24 of the top 25 cities listed in ALA’s report for high daily particle pollution are located in the west, a region plagued with severe wildfires in recent years.”

“Smoke from wildfires is contributing to unhealthy air quality which affects us all. Microscopic smoke particles are especially harmful to infants and children, adults 65 years old and older, pregnant women, those suffering from existing health conditions, and other vulnerable individuals. In addition to public health, our quality of life and our economy can be negatively affected by smoke,” said Windsor.

Windsor encourages everyone to do their part to reduce wildfire risk and shared some tips from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources:

  • Work in the mornings or late evenings to avoid the hottest parts of the day, and postpone your work when the weather calls for low humidity or high wind
  • Keep a water hose or bucket or fire extinguisher on hand
  • Use a nylon or plastic weed whacker line instead of metal
  • Be careful not to set a hot tool down on dry grass or leaves
  • Allow power engines to cool before refueling, and make sure the hot exhaust is kept away from dry grasses, weeds, and shrubs – only use such equipment that’s in good repair and has spark arresters installed. when applicable
  • Stay home for an hour after finishing your work – this way you’ll be around to notice if anything begins to smolder and smoke

More information on wildfire prevention can be found at www.dnr.wa.gov/WildfirePrevention

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