American Lung Association: Washington air quality is worsening

Wildfires and wintertime wood fires helped drive Yakima, Spokane and the Seattle area to the top of the nation’s worst cities for air pollution, according to the American Lung Association’s 2020 State of Air report.

The Tri-Cities was not on the list, but Benton County received a failing grade for air quality in the report. Franklin County has no monitor collecting data in the county, the report said.

The association’s annual air quality report tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of particle pollution and ozone during a three-year period.

Yakima ranked fifth in the nation for short-term particle pollution, its worst-ever ranking and 10 spots ahead of its 2019 ranking. Yakima is 27th most polluted for year-round particle pollution, up more than 50 spots from a year earlier.

“Trends of increasing wildfires in Washington and neighboring states are consistent with a warming climate,” said Season Oltmann, the lung association’s Washington state director. “Exposure to wildfire smoke place our health and our lives at risk.”

The Spokane-Spokane Valley-Coeur d’Alene metro area’s air quality ranked 14th most-polluted for short-term particle pollution, its worst ever recorded.

The Seattle-Tacoma area improved from the ninth to 14th most polluted area for short-term particle pollution.

Bellingham is tied for seventh as the cleanest city for annual particle pollution. 

Read the full report at

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