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Yakima Clean Air Agency says don't be fooled: Air quality is still bad

Yakima Clean Air Agency says don't be fooled: air quality is still bad

YAKIMA, Wash.- For some, this crisp cold autumn air in our Yakima Valley may seem like it should be some of the most healthy you could be breathing. But Clean Air Agency experts say don't be fooled, our air quality is actually unhealthy.

"Even when it gets sunny and bright out, there's still a possibility that we have an inversion that traps the pollution close to the ground," said Supervisor at Clean Air Agency Mark Edler.

Right now Yakima County is under a stage one burn ban, which our Clean Air Agency issues if our air has a high chance of going past the state's average of what's considered hazardous.

Compliance Engineering Supervisor at Clean Air Agency, Hasan Tahat, determines when our air reaches dangerous levels. If it does, he's the county's eyes and ears to make sure the air doesn't get any worse.

"It's based on modeling, and based on science. Do we get it 100 percent accurate? The answer is there is nothing 100 percent accurate in forecast! But do we get it the 90th percentile? Yes," said Tahat.

Tahat researches multiple weather forecast sites to decide on how the weather look for the next three days, and see's if there's any signs that would lead to the air quality reaching dangerous levels.

"I look for air movement, it tells me how much strength is in the air, it tells me there is no air movement, no ventilation for all those pollutants coming," said Tahat.

During the summer when wildfires happen, Tahat says the main solution for the air quality to go back to normal levels is letting mother nature take it's course, and wait for wind to blow the smoke out. But during the winter, they have more control by issuing burn bans to cancel out how much pollution is in the air.

They urge everyone, but especially the elderly, children, and people with asthma to avoid going outside when air levels are considered dangerous.

Tahat says the burn ban is expected to go throughout the weekend.

Only EPA certified devices like wood or pellet stoves can be used during a stage one burn ban.

All outdoor burning is banned countywide until the burn ban is lifted.

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