Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

County air quality reading hits red zone


August 16, 2018 | View PDF

The Whitman County Department of Public Health advises residents to take caution as air quality monitors graded conditions in the “red” Tuesday morning for the first time this year.

Devices in Rosalia and Pullman deemed the air “unhealthy,” due to spreading smoke from fires in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest near Lake Pend Oreille, and the Wenatchee, Okanogan and Colville National Forests. Multiple fires also burn across the Canadian border in British Columbia and Alberta.

A red designation calls for all people to limit time spent outdoors, including avoiding exercising outside.

Those in “Sensitive Groups,” such as people with asthma, respiratory infection, diabetes, lung or heart disease, or who have had a stroke, are advised to stay indoors.

Air quality numbers in Whitman County are measured by the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE). On Tuesday, the Rosalia number was 157 and the Pullman number 152 – the amount of particulates (solid pieces of ash or dust) per volume of air.

“When the wind shifts, it can change in 30 minutes,” said Troy Henderson, Whitman County Health Department director.

The DOE also advises people to run air-conditioners on re-circulate and close the outside air intake.

Each school district makes decisions on how to proceed with outdoor sports practices.

The county health department website links to the DOE’s chart, which is monitored and updated locally.

The DOE’s color-coded chart spans six rating levels. Red follows “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” (orange) and precedes “Very Unhealthy’ (purple). The worst is a deep purple for “Hazardous.”



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