Quantcast
Climate
The Seattle skyline hazy with smoke from wildfires that have impacted air quality throughout Washington state during the past week. Peter Stevens / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Wildfires Choke Washington State's Air, Delaying Flights and Trash Collection

Unhealthy levels of air pollution caused by smoke from wildfires delayed flights and trash collection in parts of Washington state Sunday and Monday.


The city of Spokane in Eastern Washington had the worst air quality in the country Monday morning, according to measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Spokesman-Review reported.

The EPA measured the city's air as 382 on a 500 point scale air quality index scale 6 a.m. Monday, clearly in the worst, "hazardous" air pollution category. The city has delayed trash collection in some areas till Tuesday to limit the time city employees spend outdoors.

At 257, the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency 24-hour average air quality index Sunday was the worst it has been since record-keeping began in 1999, surpassing last year's record set Sept. 7.

"Wildfire smoke has the potential to significantly impact air quality, as we've seen over the past few summers," Spokane Clean Air Executive Director Julie Oliver said in a statement reported by Newsweek. "Smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles. The severity of its impact depends on weather patterns. If the air isn't moving, the concentration of fine particles increases."

In addition to delaying trash pick-up, the polluted air has also brought summer activities to a stand-still, closing the city's athletic fields, aquatic centers and park attractions and prompting the cancellation of sports camps and the Riverfront Eats lunch-time food truck event scheduled for Tuesday, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Across the mountains, in Western Washington, air quality was also impacted, with some cities and towns around Puget Sound, such as Tacoma, Auburn and Port Angeles, reporting air quality levels of "very unhealthy," while other sites had air deemed either "unhealthy" or "unhealthy for sensitive groups," KOMO News reported.

The smoke and haze was so thick they delayed flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Newsweek reported.

"Travelers be aware that smoke in the air is causing delays in flight traffic at Sea-Tac due to low visibility. Check ahead with your airlines for potential delays," the airport tweeted Sunday.

The smoke in Western Washington is from fires in British Columbia, The Seattle Times reported, but the air will shift Tuesday to bring more smoke from fires in Eastern Washington.

The region can expect some relief when marine air blows in mid-week.

"We're going to keep some amount of smoke in the Seattle area through Wednesday," National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Haner told The Seattle Times.

This is the second bout of smoke pollution for the state within a week's time, as air quality last week in Seattle was worse than in Beijing on Wednesday, Aug. 15, King5 News reported.

Thirteen large fires have burned more than 211 square miles in Washington state this year, and the Seattle area is experiencing one of its hottest, driest summers on record, according to The Seattle Times.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
The Revelator

Interactive Map: Air Pollution in 2100

By Dipika Kadaba

Having a little trouble breathing lately? That's no surprise. Air pollution is already bad in many parts of the country, and climate change is only going to make it worse. Even though many industries are reducing their emissions, a warming climate could actually offset these reductions by intensifying the rates of chemical reactions and accumulation of pollutants in the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
ddukang / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In

By Gabriel Neal

When my brother and I were kids back in the '80s, we loved going to Long John Silver's.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Residents stand in a long queue to fill water containers on May 27 in Shimla, India. Deepak Sansta / Hindustan Times / Getty Images

World Peace Requires Access to Safe Water

International Peace Day is Sept. 21. Mekela Panditharatne, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, submitted the following op-ed to EcoWatch in commemoration.

In drought-ravaged East Africa, the cracks in the plains echo the fault lines splitting tribes.

Across the globe, the devastation of deadly brawls is being exacerbated by tensions over access to water. Water crises, often worsened by governance failures, can portend warning signs for instability and conflict. This year, the World Resources Institute cautioned that water stress is growing globally, "with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040." The effects of such water stress span the gamut from civil unrest to open warfare.

Keep reading... Show less
Food

How Your Personality Type Could Influence Your Food Choices

By Melissa Kravitz

"You are what you eat" may be one of the oldest sayings ever to be repeated around the dinner table, but can you also eat what you are?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!