During Sunday night’s dust storm, Spokane County recorded unhealthy levels of particulates in the air.
The standard is 150 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter of air, averaged over 24 hours, according to the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. The readings spiked at 304 micrograms during the storm, and averaged 175 micrograms during the 24-hour period.
The dust that caused the poor air quality was small enough to be inhaled. About nine of the dust particles would fit into a fine grain of sand.
Since dust storms are relatively common in the Inland Northwest, air agency officials encourage people with pre-existing heart and lung problems to have a plan in place with their doctor, said Lisa Woodard, an agency spokeswoman.
Sunday’s air quality problems shouldn’t affect Spokane County’s overall compliance with federal standards, Woodard said. There are exemptions for uncontrolled natural events, such as dust storms, forest fires and volcanic eruptions.