Though uncertain what’s causing the resurgence of haze in the Puget Sound area, scientists offer several theories. They include:
While air quality has improved at low-lying hot-spots, it may be deteriorating at higher altitudes where visibility is most affected.
Small amounts of sulfates, perhaps from distant industrial plants, could be contributing to the growing haze.
Rapid growth in the Kent-Auburn area may be creating new pollution that is trapped by the surrounding hillsides.
Several studies are under way to determine what’s causing the haze.
The result is a paradox: Even as the region gets off the federal dirty air list, its air is still troubled.
“That’s why I have a hard time celebrating. The air is certainly cleaner but there are more people breathing degraded air,” said Jane Koenig, a University of Washington professor of environmental health. “It’s really discouraging. It’s like treading water.”