Q: How is Spokane’s air quality?
A: Good on most days. In August 2005, Spokane was officially declared in attainment of all federal air quality standards. This came after decades-long efforts to improve air quality. The two most prevalent air pollutants in Spokane are fine particles (smoke/dust) and ground-level ozone.
Q: Where are the air quality monitors located?
A: There are ten air quality monitoring sites within Spokane County, click here for a list of locations and information.
Q: What happens when I file an air quality complaint?
A: The complaint is forwarded to a field inspector for follow-up. Depending upon the nature of the complaint and history, the inspector may make a personal visit to the location of the complaint, or send a letter or other information to the location. The complaint is entered into a history file should future complaints arise. We receive hundreds of air quality complaints each year from citizens concerned about potential air pollution issues they observe. Complaints may be submitted 24-hours a day, by calling 477-4727 or email.
Q: I am concerned about the contrails in the sky. Are they harmful?
A: Contrails are line-shaped clouds or “condensation trails,” composed of ice particles, that are visible behind jet aircraft engines, typically at cruise altitudes in the upper atmosphere. Contrails have been a normal effect of jet aviation since its earliest days. Depending on the temperature and the amount of moisture in the air at the aircraft altitude, contrails evaporate quickly (if the humidity is low) or persist and grow (if the humidity is high). Jet engine exhaust provides only a small portion of the water that forms ice in persistent contrails. Persistent contrails are mainly composed of water naturally present along the aircraft flight path.
AirForce Facts on Contrails EPA Facts on Contrails
Q: I am worried there might be asbestos in my home? How can I tell?
A: Asbestos is only a concern if it is disturbed—that’s when fibers are released into the air. This could occur during a remodel or repair project. The only way to know for sure is to have the material tested. If you are planning a renovation, and doing the work yourself, you may perform your own survey of the structure to determine if it may have suspect asbestos-containing materials. Click here to access "Need an Asbestos Survey?" fact sheet and other asbestos publications.
Q: May I burn my pine needles and tree trimmings?
A: For most Spokane County residents, burning yard and garden debris from improved property is prohibited. Click here for more information. If you have unimproved treed acreage, you may qualify for silvicultural burning under the WA Dept of Natural Resources. Click here for more information on silvicultural burning.
Q: I live in the City of Spokane. I’d like to purchase one of the new backyard patio/deck heaters that burn wood. Is using this type of device allowed?
A: Yes. In the city and throughout Spokane County, use of this type of device is allowed on private property. This activity falls under the “Recreational Fires” category, and there are rules regarding how and when you burn. Click here for more information about Recreational Fires.
Q: Does my vehicle need tested if I live in Spokane County?
A: Vehicles between five and twenty-five years old require testing every other year. A test is also required to transfer the registered ownership between private parties for 1989 through 2008 model year vehicles unless the vehicle has been tested within the last 365 days. For more information: http://www.emissiontestwa.com/faq.aspx
Q: Who can I contact to report improper handling of Freon?
A: Freon is actually a trade name commonly used to describe a whole class of chemicals used in refrigeration known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, identified by the EPA as ozone-depleting substances. Citizens may report an environmental violation to the state at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/reportenviroproblem.html or to EPA's Office of Compliance and Enforcement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/complaints/index.html.
Q: I am concerned about indoor air quality, such as mold and radon.
A: You might find information on EPA's Indoor Air Quality page helpful: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/
Q: Odors can be a nuisance, but are they a public health hazard?
A: Odors are a complex mixture of gases, vapors, and dust. It is possible for certain odorous emissions to have an impact on physical health. The potential impact of any odor depends upon the concentration of odorous emissions, and the frequency and duration of exposure. The most frequently reported symptoms attributed to odors include headache, nausea, hoarseness, cough, congestion, palpitations, shortness of breath, eye, nose, throat irritation.
Q: Will the use of woodstoves ever be banned entirely?
A: It is highly unlikely that the use of woodstoves will be banned entirely. When used properly, the new devices on the market are fairly clean burning and energy efficient. There are temporary bans on the use of wood heating devices when air quality deteriorates.