Seattle Air Quality Now Worse than Beijing, Calcutta

October 20, 2022


Heavy smoke from wildfires continues to reduce air quality in Seattle and Western Washington, and an air quality alert has been extended for a second time.

On Thursday, the poor air quality landed Seattle the top spot for the worst air quality in the world for the second day in a row, according to IQAir’s air quality and pollution city ranking

After starting Wednesday in the top 5, Seattle fluctuated up and down in the top 15 before taking the top spot in the afternoon. On Thursday, Seattle started at #2, with Portland, Oregon at #2, but by 8 a.m. was once again at #1.

Meanwhile, Seattle Public Schools tweeted a warning about the air quality being at unhealthy levels on Wednesday.

Following state health department recommendations, all students will be kept indoors with light activity levels during recess and physical education classes. Sports practices and events will be canceled or moved inside or to an area with safer air quality.

Haze over Puget Sound

NASA Earth Observatory:

The fire season normally winds down in the Pacific Northwest in the fall, but several blazes continued to light up forests in Oregon and Washington well into October 2022.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image of smoke plumes spanning hundreds of kilometers in both states on October 9, 2022. In Washington, smoke from the Bolt Creek Fire and Goat Rocks Fire amassed in a network of valleys in the Cascades. In Oregon, a long smoke plume extended to the west and created hazardous air quality in Oakridge. Smoke from the fire has also degraded air quality in Portland, Eugene, and Roseburg at times during the past week.

Much of the smoke in Oregon was from the Cedar Creek Fire in Lane County, a large lightning-triggered blaze that burned in Willamette National Forest. The fire, which started west of Waldo Lake, has burned through rugged terrain thick with Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir timber stands since August. The 730 firefighters assigned to the blaze have focused primarily on protecting Oakridge, Westfir, and other nearby communities.

Below, Harvard researcher on “Smokewaves” and long term health consequences.


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