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Opinion >  Letters

Smoky, not “hazy”

What I have been noticing is that the weather reports on the local TV stations and newspapers don’t seem to have made the transition to reporting consistently and effectively about our new yearly threat of wildfire smoke as the serious situation that it is.

For instance, they will say: “It will be hazy tomorrow.”, rather than “It will be smoky air tomorrow, watch the Air Quality Index (AQI) to keep healthy.” Also, the AQI readings, if reported at all, are often wildly inaccurate.

Here’s an example: At 5:00 pm, Aug. 20th, the PurpleAir AQI reading near me was 166 -“unhealthy for all”. Q6 reported the air was “good to moderate”. The EPA reading on the AirNow app was 92. The Weather Channel showed 63. The PurpleAir network is considered accurate and is real time. So why the huge disparities? If one relied on only the TV you would have thought the air was fine outside when, actually, it was “unhealthy for all”.

Everything I’ve read in medical articles says wildfire smoke is a serious health threat. Because the particles are very small, they get deep into your lungs and you can’t get them out. The effect is cumulative, like radiation, so the more you breath in the worse your lungs get.

Since months of wildfire smoke each year seems to be our new summer reality, shouldn’t the public get reliable, consistent, accurate data on the state of their air?

Dan Distelhorst


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