As the smoke blankets the Inland Northwest from surrounding wildfires, many people have found themselves checking the air quality of where they live.
Although all three websites us the same raw monitoring data, they don’t all report under the same index. These websites gather the same data from air monitoring systems placed on top of buildings around Spokane County. Provided by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, the network of seven monitoring stations measure the ambient air, providing 24 hour data.
The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency and AirNow use the Air Quality Index in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency. The AQI is a national standardized method for reporting daily air quality. To tell people when air quality is healthy or unhealthy, the Washington State Department of Ecology uses the Washington Air Quality Advisory, or WAQA. Both forms of reporting the data use color-coded categories to show when air quality is good, moderate, or unhealthy but the difference is that WAQA shows the health effects of pollutants at lower levels than the AQI does.
The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency always reports the highest levels found from the seven monitoring stations around Spokane to allow for proper health precautions.
The website for the Air Monitoring Network appears to have crashed as of Tuesday night.