National Air Quality Awareness Week highlights risks
April 30, 2012
NEW — 1:30 p.m. April 30, 2012
National Air Quality Awareness Week, observed from Monday through May 6, focuses on improving and protecting air quality.
Overall air quality affects residents’ health, plus environmental health and the overall quality of life in communities.
The state Department of Ecology highlighted a number of steps to improve and safeguard the air. But risks remain from a variety of air pollution sources, including the main sources in Washington — motor vehicles, smoke from outdoor burning and wildfires, and wood smoke from home-heating devices.
The goal of the Department of Ecology’s Air Quality Program is to safeguard public health and the environment by preventing and reducing air pollution.
The state agency, plus local clean air agencies throughout the state, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency all have regulatory tools to address air pollution. The tools include national and state laws to limit emissions from industrial plants, motor vehicles and other sources.
“Beyond government regulations, it’s important to realize that all of us, as individuals, can make choices that help improve and protect the quality of the air we breathe,” Stuart Clark, Department of Ecology Air Quality Program manager, said in a statement. “That’s why our program uses the slogan ‘be the difference, breathe the difference.’ ”
The state’s main sources of air pollution — vehicle emissions and smoke from both outdoor burning and home heating — share a common denominator: tiny fine particles. The particles can be easily inhaled deeply into lungs, can cause heart and breathing problems, and even death. Children, people with asthma and respiratory illnesses, and adults older than 65 face the most risk.