No Easy Fix for Yakima's Poor Air Quality - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

No Easy Fix for Yakima's Poor Air Quality

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The Washington State Department of Ecology took a closer look at the Yakima Valley's air quality during last year's winter, and what they found wasn't good; high aerosol nitrate levels. The Washington State Department of Ecology took a closer look at the Yakima Valley's air quality during last year's winter, and what they found wasn't good; high aerosol nitrate levels.
YAKIMA, WA - The Washington State Department of Ecology took a closer look at the Yakima Valley's air quality during last year's winter, and what they found wasn't good; high aerosol nitrate levels.

Not only does poor air quality affect people's health but it could also very well affect businesses. Ecology experts said if Yakima violates federal standards of air quality, more restrictions will be put into place making it extremely costly for local businesses.

It's no secret that Yakima has bad air quality. On Thursday, scientists from the Washington State Department of Ecology explained exactly how dire it is.

"Now we're seeing this unusually large amount of ammonia nitrate, which is not found elsewhere in the State of Washington," said Joye Redfield-Wilder with the Department of Ecology.

So why is it found in the Yakima Valley? The DOE said the valley's topography and weather pattern captures pollution like a bowl so it just sits there. Topography may be keeping the nitrates in place, but the DOE said that's not what's causing them.

"We've had a lot of population growth in Yakima," said Redfield-Wilder. "The interstate was built so we have more cars driving by. We've had growth in the agriculture community."

According to a study from Washington State University, aerosol nitrate levels from agriculture activities and caremissionss are especially high during the winter months when air is colder and more stagnant.

Researchers said nitrate particles can carry cancer causing materials and many community members are concerned for their health. Some people who attended the public meeting expressed their concerns and the need to work together to find solutions.

"I think your study opened a lot of eyes and a lot of possibilities, and it's going to help everybody from the biggest agency to the littlest," said a concerned community member.

But no solutions were decided on immediately. Researchers said this won't be an easy fix and they need everyone's input from farmers, scientists, the clear air agency and community members.

Since there's no easy and ready to go solution, the DOE said there is a need for further study. More research can help pinpoint which cause and how much emissions need to be reduced in order to make a large dent in nitrate levels.