With every breath we take, our lungs are exposed to the world around us, filtering over 11,000 liters of air each day. Children breathe 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults. Children's lungs are still developing also making them more vulnerable to breathing dirty air than healthy adults.
Air pollution hurts the body both by inflaming and destroying lung tissue and by weakening the lungs' defenses against contaminants and infection.
Thanks to decades of hard work and technological advances, air quality in the Spokane region is good on most days. However, there are days when air pollution can reach the moderate- to-unhealthful ranges.
In the Spokane region there are two pollutants of primary concern, fine particles and ground-level ozone. While industry contributes to about 20% of our air pollution, most of it comes from individual actions related to how we travel and heat our homes. Air quality in the Spokane region tends to decline during the winter heating season and during the hot, summer months. Learn more about our seasonal challenges and what you can do to reduce air pollution.
Agency staff operate a network of air quality monitoring stations located throughout Spokane County. Information collected is used to provide daily air quality forcasts, to notify the community when air quality is approaching unhealthful levels, and to identify potential pollution problems and solutions.
The U.S. EPA sets national, ambient air quality standards for six criteria pollutants. The purpose of these standards is to prevent air pollution from reaching levels that harm public health and welfare. In the past, Spokane has been in nonattainment for carbon monoxide (CO) and Particulate Matter (PM10).
The Federal Clean Air Act requires states to develop plans for protecting and maintaining air quality in all areas of the state. It also requires states to develop specific plans for bringing nonattainment areas back into attainment. The plans are called State Implementation Plans (SIPs). Click here for more information, including plans and documents related to Spokane's CO and PM10 SIPs.
Materials, including fact sheets and brochures, are available on numerous air quality topics, including wood heating, outdoor burning, and asbestos.
We spread our clean air message by participating in community events, working with the media, and presenting at various business and non-profit group meetings. In addition to our community-wide outreach efforts, we offer educational resources for area students and teachers from kindergarten through high school. We also offer programs to youth organizations and summer camps.
Historic trends, air quality reports, emissions inventories, data summaries, State Implementation Plans and Maintenance Plans, and air quality-related maps are available here.