AndyO Blog

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Seattle air quality apocalypse

In the past few weeks, due to unprecedented wildfire smoke, Washington state (along with California and Oregon) has been treated to some of the worst air quality in the world. Sure, we've had our share of summers where smoke hovered around for a few days, but I'd never seen anything like this. 

Starting around September 7, air quality in Seattle was so bad, we were warned not to go outside. Using the "PM 2.5 Air Quality Index" (AQI), we were in the 150 range (PM 2.5 are fine particles that cause issues for people with respiratory issues -- as well as those who are healthy). All I know is we got close to 200 AQI at one point. 

In addition to being told not to go outside, we weren't supposed to open our windows either. This became more difficult when the temp went up into the 80s. On some nights or mornings, we opened doors and windows anyway.

Around the time the air quality was becoming so awful, I remembered that our new furnace had an  iWave air purifier. I didn't think much about it at the time, but I decided to run the circulation in the house to see if it helped (like most people in Seattle, we don't have air conditioning). Once I turned on the air, I didn't smell any smoke in the house. I guess it uses ionization, which breaks down the pollutants. I was just glad we "chose wisely" by having this installed. 

We got some relief starting on Saturday, 9/19, with the air quality going back to normal. I realized that I hadn't taken any photos of the hellish vision. This is what it looked like:


As bad as it was, places like Portland and Bend in Oregon were seeing air quality in the 400 range. I honestly don't know how people were breathing when it was this bad. 

I know things can always get worse, but 2020 has turned out to be "one for the books" as they say. The pandemic would have been enough for most years, but every day there's some new thing going on that hasn't happened before. As I write this, Tropical Storm Beta is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. This is the 23rd storm named to date in 2020, which is a record. 

posted by AndyO @ 7:35 PM   0 comments