Recap of Past Week Smoke Levels

Recap of Past Week Smoke Levels

Aug 28, 2015

Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency: Recap of wildfire smoke levels over last week; comparisons to past wildfire events 

SPOKANE, Wash.- Aug 28, 2015 - The wildfire smoke impacts that began last week and continue, have resulted in the highest concentrations and longest duration in the Spokane area since monitoring for fine smoke particles began in 1999, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (Spokane Clean Air).
The federal, health-based standard for PM2.5 (combustion particles 2.5 microns in diameter and smaller) is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug3) averaged over a 24-hour period, midnight-to-midnight.  
The highest pollution readings of the current wildfire season occurred on Friday, August 21. The 24-hour average measured was nearly three times the standard at 94.1 ug3. When the concentration is converted to the Air Quality Index (AQI), Friday (midnight-to-midnight) was an "unhealthy/red" day.
The "Current Air Quality Index" provided by Spokane Clean Air online is a tool to gauge "real-time" air quality and where levels are headed. The maximum hourly "Current Air Quality Index" reading last Friday night, August 21, was 330 or "Hazardous/Maroon."
Listed below are the maximum 24-hour (midnight to midnight) average concentrations for PM2.5 reached during the past week:

Date 24-hour average micrograms/cubic meter of air Converted to  Daily AQI Value AQI  Category
Fri., Aug. 21                       94.1           171 Unhealthy/Red
Sat., Aug. 22                       20.3            68 Moderate/Unhealthy
Sun., Aug. 23                       80.9           164 Unhealthy/Red
Mon., Aug. 24                       86.5           167 Unhealthy/Red
Tues., Aug. 25                       41.1           115 Unhealthy for Some/Orange
Wed., Aug. 26                       65.2           156 Unhealthy/Red
Thurs., Aug. 27                       64.7           156 Unhealthy/Red

Below is a chart of the wildfire smoke impacts over the last five years:

Current and Last five wildfire seasons Max 24-hour average micrograms/cubic meter of air Converted to  Daily AQI Value AQI Category
2015 - five days so far have reached Unhealthy/Red                  94.1          171 Unhealthy/Red
2014 - one day was above Moderate                  37.3          104 Unhealthy for Some/Orange
2013 - no wildfire smoke impacts      
2012 - two days reached Unhealthy for Some                  40.3          113 Unhealthy for Some/Orange
2011 - no wildfire smoke impacts      
2010 -  one day reached Unhealthy for Some                  40.1          112 Unhealthy for Some/Orange

The wildfire smoke is likely to continue to impact the Spokane-area, therefore these precautions are worth repeating:

  • Everyone should avoid heavy work or exercise outdoors when the air quality index reaches unhealthy levels.  
  • Older adults, small children, and those with respiratory conditions or heart disease may be more sensitive to poor air quality and should stay indoors and avoid heavy work when air quality reaches unhealthy levels.  
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps dilute phlegm in the respiratory tract, making it easier to cough out smoke particles. Plan on coughing; it is nature`s way of clearing your lungs. Avoid caffeine products, sugary drinks and alcohol because they have a dehydrating effect.  
  • Stay cool if the weather is warm. Run your air conditioner to recirculate air. Turn the fan blower on manually so it continuously filters the air in your home.  

For up-to-date wildfire information visit
More information:
Spokane Current Air Quality webpage
Spokane Regional Health District wildfire FAQ

Media contacts:

Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency
Lisa Woodard, (509) 477-4727, ext. 115; cell, 509-863-2463;