Welcome back! We’ve spent several days talking about pollutants and how to avoid them. Now let’s talk about how we at the Department of Environmental Quality keep track of them and provide you with the results.
Throughout the Great State of Idaho we have 30 air quality monitoring stations. Twenty of them take real time measurements of air contaminants. The other ten use integrated sampling methods to get their measurements. Bet you want to know what we measure? I got ya covered. We measure:
- · Particulate Matter (remember that from a few days ago?)
- · Carbon Monoxide (keeps your blood from getting all the oxygen it can)
- · Nitrogen Dioxide (when exposed to sunlight this will create ozone)
- · Sulfur Dioxide (harmful to the respiratory system and contributes to “haze” in the sky)
- · Ozone (not the good kind of ozone –the EPA’s motto is “good up high, bad nearby.” It is the main ingredient in smog and makes breathing difficult.)
We use these measurements to issue a daily Air Quality Index value and to determine if we need to issue warnings to the public (like this blog!) or keep people from burning outdoors and contributing even more pollutants. We also use them to keep track of pollution trends and which areas of the state are meeting air quality standards. We have lots of resources on our website so that you can get real time air quality data. Check them out sometime.
So, after all this time, what’s the take away? Smoke is bad. Tiny little particulate matter can give you serious health problems. VOCs in smoke might give you a headache and stinging eyes[MB1] . VOCs in very high concentrations can cause considerable more health problems. We constantly record data and issue results and warnings as needed so you can protect yourself from smoke.
If you have any questions, send us a message. I’ll also make one more plug for our friends at Idaho Health and Welfare. Have a gander at their site if you have health specific questions and have a go at our website if you have environmental questions.
Thanks everyone! Stay safe out there - metaphorically “out there” not actually outside – at least not when it’s smoky! When it is, I suggest you stay indoors where there is a good filter in the ventilation system. Also a piece of common sense advice – close the windows and doors. Every time you open them, you let in the smoke!