Hard to see, hard to breathe: U.S. West struggles with smoke and PM 2.5.

August 29, 2018

Smoke from wildfires clog the sky across the U.S. West. On August 20, 2018 they blotted out mountains and city skylines from Oregon to Colorado, delaying flights and forcing authorities to tell even healthy adults in the Seattle area to stay indoors according to an August 20, 2018 Chicago Tribune report via the Associated Press.

U.S. Western Wildfires. Click image to enlarge map.

Fine particles (PM 2.5) are the principal pollutant of concern from wildfire smoke for short-term exposures (hours to weeks) according to EPA’s AirNow.Gov.

As large cities dealt with unhealthy air for a second summer in a row, experts warned that it could become more common as the American West faces larger and more destructive wildfires because of heat and drought blamed on climate change. Officials also must prioritize resources during the longer firefighting season, so some blazes may be allowed to burn in unpopulated areas.

Seattle’s Space Needle was swathed in haze, and it was impossible to see nearby mountains. Portland, Ore., residents who were up early saw a blood-red sun shrouded in smoke and huffed their way through another day of polluted air. Portland Public Schools suspended all outdoor sports practices.

Thick smoke in Denver blocked the view of some of Colorado’s famous Front Range mountains and prompted an air quality health advisory for the northeastern quarter of the state.

The smoky pollution, even in Idaho and Colorado, came from wildfires in British Columbia and the Northwest’s Cascade Mountains, clouding a season that many spend outdoors.

In Spokane, air quality slipped into the “hazardous” range. Thick haze hung over Washington’s second-largest city, forcing vehicles to turn on their headlights during the morning commute.

The air quality was so bad that everyone, regardless of physical condition or age, will likely be affected, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency.

In California, wind blew smoke from several wildfires into the San Francisco Bay Area, where haze led authorities to issue an air quality advisory through Tuesday. They suggested people avoid driving to limit additional pollutants in the air and advised those with health problems to reduce time outdoors.

What this means to you
Smoke from wildfires clog the sky across the U.S. West. On August 20, 2018 they blotted out mountains and city skylines from Oregon to Colorado. Fine particles (PM 2.5) are the principal pollutant of concern from wildfire smoke.

MIRATECH can help
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