Air quality affected by wildfires - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Air quality affected by wildfires

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It's hard to miss the smoke in the air this time of year. It's hard to miss the smoke in the air this time of year.

It's hard to miss the smoke in the air this time of year.  It seems to envelope you as soon as you step outside your door.  It's made up of a mix of gases and fine particulates, that thanks to the wind, can travel quite a distance.  It can also make it difficult to breathe and worsen chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease.
 
It's a constant reminder of what we're dealing with at this time of year. 
 
Mark Rowe, an Air Quality Technician with Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, says that when you look around you can usually see the hillsides much more clearly than you can today. 
 
That's because of all the wildfires burning throughout Washington and North Idaho.  "The most significant one as far as our air quality right now is the approximately 2000 acre wildfire over near Bayview, ID.  The Cape Horn Fire," says Rowe. 
 
According to Rowe, fine particulate matter is the pollutant of most concern during a wildfire.  Right now in Spokane the air quality index is at the moderate level. 
 
Sean Wagner and his family were out enjoying a picnic at Riverfront Park on Monday and they noticed the smoke in the air.  "My wife and I talked about it first thing this morning when we went outside," says Wagner.  "The first thing I thought of was, I know some people who kind of struggle with it, with a breathing history of asthma."
 
SRCAA says the air quality index is determined by taking all the pollutants measured into account, then converts them into an index value. 
 
The fact that it's early July and the air quality index is already in the moderate range some people are concerned about what it will be like in late summer or early fall. 
 
"It's so hot and dry... It's off to a rough start and it's not going to get better anytime soon," says Wagner.
 

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