Woman with child

Take Care. Check the Air.

You know the risks of unhealthy air quality, but do you know what causes it?

You probably know the drill by now: you check the current air quality often to protect your family. But did you know the culprit is often PM2.5? The PM stands for Particulate Matter (PM) and the 2.5 references the size. Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 microns in diameter and smaller. And it’s their size that makes them such a health risk, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream.

What is PM2.5 and where does it come from?

Particulate Matter (PM) is mostly comprised of smoke and dust,
depending on the size.

Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 microns in diameter and smaller.
These microscopic smoke and soot particles are released to the air mostly from combustion, such as wildfires, outdoor burning, motor vehicles, and some industries.

Here’s a look at the Current Air Quality

Check the Air Quality Index and understand the implications of each level:

Good0 – 50
36
Tomorrow
Information Unavailable

How does PM2.5 affect our health?

The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream. Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. People with heart or lung diseases, children, and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including:

  • Premature death in people with heart or lung disease
  • Nonfatal heart attacks
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Aggravated asthma
  • Decreased lung function
  • Increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.
father with kids on bicycles
Human Hair follicle diagram

Fine particle pollution in our area comes from a variety  of sources, including:

  • Wildfires
  • Wood heating
  • Outdoor burning
  • Cars and trucks
  • Paved and unpaved roads
  • Construction-related activities

What can you do to help reduce PM2.5?

  • Do everything you can to prevent wildfires.
  • Compost or mulch yard and garden waste rather than burning it. Burning vegetation for disposal isn’t an option in most areas of Spokane County.
  • If you have a recreational “rec” fire, consider switching from wood to an electric or gas device. If you stay with wood, ensure it is fully dried before burning. Review the requirements before you have a rec fire.
  • If you heat with wood, follow cleaner burning techniques.
  • If you have an wood stove that is 20 years or older, consider upgrading to a new wood, pellet, or gas stove or a ductless heat pump. Grant funds are available for those who qualify.
Family BBQ in backyard