Hot weather means increased ozone risk

August 4, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 4, 2012

Hot weather expected throughout Washington is expected to increase levels of ozone, the major ingredient of smog.

Forecasts call for high temperatures in the 80s and 90s throughout the state for the next few days. The conditions combine with vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and other air pollutants to produce higher levels of ozone.

Ozone at ground level can be harmful. The substance is the main ingredient of smog and can cause health problems.

The state Department of Ecology offers a video to provide more information about how ozone forms. Winds often carry ozone-forming pollutants away from urban sources to rural areas.

Unhealthy ozone levels can affect everyone, especially pose risks for people with lung and heart disease, children, older adults and active people. People should limit activities and time spent outdoors as ozone levels rise.

Monitor local air quality by using the Washington Air Quality Advisory website.

Summer haze can impact air quality, raise health risks

July 12, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. July 12, 2012

Summer in Western Washington means a respite from the rain, but the season also brings wildfires and increased ozone levels. The result is diminished air quality and increased health risks for people battling heart and lung diseases.

Different factors contribute to summer air pollution. Several consecutive days of sunny, hot weather increase ozone. Wildfires produce smoky air containing fine particles and toxic chemicals. Vehicle exhaust also contributes to air quality issues.

People can lower exposure to air pollution by checking air quality conditions before participating in outdoor activities. State health officials recommended for people — especially seniors and others at increased risk — to limit outdoor activity and choose less strenuous things to do, such as going for a walk instead of a run, if air pollution is high.

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State expands hours for vehicle emissions test stations

July 3, 2012

State emissions test stations plan to offer expanded hours starting July 5.

The increase in hours is meant to increase the ease for motorists in need of emissions tests. The expanded hours are:

  • 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays
  • 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays

Owners in King, Pierce, Snohomish, Clark and Spokane counties must undergo the tests to limit air pollution in densely populated areas.

In order to make sure testing is done in a timely manner, vehicle owners should not wait until too close to their license tabs’ expiration deadline.

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State vehicle emission test stations close for Independence Day

July 1, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. July 1, 2012

Motorists should plan vehicle emissions tests around Independence Day, as test stations close for the holiday.

Owners in King, Pierce, Snohomish, Clark and Spokane counties must undergo vehicle emissions tests to limit air pollution in densely populated areas.

The test stations plan reopen July 5 with expanded hours. The increase in hours is meant to increase the ease for motorists in need of emissions tests.

In order make sure testing is done in a timely manner, vehicle owners should not wait until too close to the license tabs expiration deadline.

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King County earns mixed grades for air quality

May 15, 2012

King County earned a D grade for smog pollution in the latest air quality report from the American Lung Association, officials at the nonprofit association announced April 25.

The report found smog levels in Washington remained at similar levels as in previous years. King County received the grade for ozone, or smog, the most widespread air pollution.

When inhaled, ozone irritates the lungs, like a bad sunburn. The irritant can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and premature death.

However, for particle pollution, King County earned an A ranking from the American Lung Association. In Washington, particle pollution levels can spike dangerously for hours to days during the winter home heating season.

Read the entire State of the Air 2012 report at www.stateoftheair.org

King County earns mixed grades for air quality

May 2, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. May 2, 2012

King County earned a D grade for smog pollution in the latest air quality report from the American Lung Association, officials at the nonprofit association announced April 25.

The report found smog levels in Washington remained at similar levels as in previous years. King County received the grade for ozone, or smog, the most widespread air pollution.

When inhaled, ozone irritates the lungs, like a bad sunburn. The irritant can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and premature death.

However, for particle pollution, King County earned an A ranking from the American Lung Association. In Washington, particle pollution levels can spike dangerously for hours to days during the winter home heating season.

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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.

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Increased fireplace use impacted air quality

January 24, 2012

The air in Issaquah turned thick with wood smoke Jan. 20 as residents lit fireplaces for warmth amid a regional power outage.

The agency responsible for monitoring air quality in the region, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, ranked the air quality in King County as moderate for days last week.

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Increased fireplace use during power outage impacts air quality

January 20, 2012

Jan Bagge (right) and neighbor Flora Lindsay purchase 14 gallons of gas at the East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast Union 76 station for the generators at their Preston homes. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 4:30 p.m. Jan. 20, 2012

The air in Issaquah is thick with woodsmoke Friday as residents light up fireplaces for warmth amid a regional power outage.

The agency responsible for monitoring air quality in the region, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, ranked the air quality in King County as moderate Friday.

The ranking means air quality is acceptable, but for some pollutants a moderate health concern exists. The health concern impacts people sensitive to air pollution — small children, senior citizens and people suffering from chronic health conditions.

The air pollutants can be harmful for people suffering from heart disease, diabetes, asthma and lung diseases. Pollutants pose the most risk to children and older adults.

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King County burn ban ends

January 17, 2012

The King County burn ban in effect last week has been canceled.

On Jan. 14, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency cancelled air quality burn bans that had been in place in King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Pierce counties.

The agency reported weather forecasters were tracking a new weather system that arrived late Jan. 13. Winds from that system were expected to disperse air pollution that had been building up across the Puget Sound area.

The agency had put in place a Stage 1 burn ban barring the burning of any wood expect in Environmental Protection Agency-certified stoves, fireplaces or fireplace inserts.

Check burn ban status at www.pscleanair.org or call 800-595-4341 toll free. The purpose of a burn ban is to reduce the amount of pollution that is creating unhealthy air.

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