Why Seattle Presently Has The Worst Air Quality In The World

On Thursday, Seattle‘s air quality was the worst in the world, with dense fog and haze completely obscuring the skyline, the surrounding mountains, and the Space Needle.

For the second day in a row, the city’s air quality was the worst in the world, even worse than in notoriously filthy cities like Beijing and Delhi. On Wednesday and Thursday, the AQI in Seattle topped 240, which is considered “extremely unhealthy” for all ages and genders. People donned masks to protect themselves from the airborne particles and the acrid smell of smoke, and it was difficult to see the top of a building even a block away.

Why Seattle Presently Has The Worst Air Quality In The World
Why Seattle Presently Has The Worst Air Quality In The World

On Thursday afternoon, the concentration of PM 2.5 in Seattle was 38 times higher than the yearly threshold set by the World Health Organization, as measured by the air quality monitoring site IQAir. PM 2.5 are microscopic particles less than 2.5 millimetres in diameter.

Wildfires in the Cascade Mountains were to blame, as were weeks of extremely dry and hot weather. When the temperature in Seattle hit 88 degrees on Sunday, it set a new record for the warmest day in late autumn. There has been very little rain in Washington since June, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that 56% of the state is under drought conditions.

According to meteorologist Maddie Kristell of the National Weather Service in Seattle, the fact that Seattle has the worst air quality in the world is a “shocking statistic.” She noted that a prolonged ridge of high pressure has prevented storms from settling over Seattle, which is contributing to the situation.

It was impossible for a change in weather patterns to occur since “that ridge was so powerful,” she said. That, in addition to the above-average temperatures, kept the flames going for longer than they would have otherwise.

Researchers are now attempting to determine if wildfire smoke is becoming worse and how it is harming human health on the West Coast and elsewhere. It was reported last month that the number of Americans who have experienced a very smoky day has risen dramatically over the last decade.

Marshall Burke, a professor of earth science at Stanford University and one of the study’s co-authors, said, “Intuitively if you live in the West, you know that things have changed, it’s grown smokier.” But we aimed to put a number on it, if you will.

A total of less than half a million individuals each year were exposed to very high levels of PM2.5 between 2006 and 2010, according to the study’s authors. From 2016 to 2020, however, that figure increased to above 8 million. An increasing number of Americans are forced to breathe in suffocating, toxic air throughout the summer and autumn months due to a hotter, drier environment and a failure to plan and execute planned burns that may avoid major wildfires.

Science has demonstrated that PM2.5 is terrible for people’s health; it may worsen respiratory and cardiovascular issues, and chronic exposure at high levels can have an effect on people’s memory and how well they do in school. But, as Burke pointed out, the long-term effects of sudden exposure to exceptionally high levels of air pollution on health and cognition are unknown.

PurpleAir, a website that monitors air quality, indicated on Thursday that even many interior air sensors in Seattle had AQIs of 100 to 150, which is harmful for many susceptible populations.

Burke suggests that when air quality is poor, people should remain inside, keep doors and windows closed, and use air purifiers or other filtering equipment whenever practical. If you don’t have access to an air purifier, you may purify the air in your home using a “Corsi-Rosenthal box,” which consists of a box fan with an air filter taped to it.

However, scientists have barely scratched the surface of the looming climate catastrophe. Burke emphasized that “our lives are affected in a multitude of ways” by poor air quality. We are only now starting to grasp how significant it really is.

On Friday morning, the air quality warning for Seattle will be lifted. The National Weather Service has predicted rain on Friday and Saturday, saying that it would “help significantly improve air quality.”


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