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Spokane air will stay unhealthy through Wednesday

Air in the Spokane area will remain in the unhealthy range until Wednesday according to projections from the Spokane Clean Air Agency.

The air quality index in Spokane was 188 as of 10 a.m. Monday according to the agency’s website.

People sensitive to smoke should stay indoors, and everyone should limit exposure to the air.

Spokane Parks and Recreation cancelled swim lessons Monday due to poor air quality and closed all city pools. Those lessons will be made up on Friday, the department said on Twitter.

EWU also cancelled morning football practice Monday and high school sports practices were cancelled.

Spokane Valley this morning ordered closure of two pools through Friday due to air quality problems. The two pools are at Park Road and Terrace View. The city is still hoping to open Park Road and Valley Mission pools this weekend and during the three-day Labor Day weekend on Sept. 5 through 7.

The National Weather Service this morning reported a strong temperature inversion from ground level to about 1,000 feet in elevation above the ground. A weather balloon released at 4 a.m. in Spokane found a temperature of about 51 degrees at ground level, while the air aloft was 71 degrees.

Normally, air gets cooler as you go higher into the sky. An inversion of cooler air causes smoke and other pollution to be trapped near the ground. It also prevents mixing with cleaner air and dispersion of pollutants.

The inversion is a typical climate feature of the Inland Northwest and can cause air pollution episodes during late fall and winter primarily, but it also is present at times during late summer and wildfire season.

Not surprisingly, the worst air quality in the region was reported at Omak where the air quality index at 11 a.m. was at 500.

Spokane’s air quality was unhealthy with a reading of 189. Similar readings were reported throughout North Central Washington. The canyon region of Lewiston and Clarkston also had poor air quality today.

The Washington state Department of Health recommends the use of respirator masks that are marked as N95 or N100. They look similar to paper dust masks, but are designed to trap tiny particles. These masks have two straps - one for above the ears and one for below. They must be fitted snugly against the face.

Standard paper dust masks, which have a single strap, and surgical masks offer no protection. Bandanas and other cloths are useless as well.


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