Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Air Quality

Thanks to fires north and south of us, the air quality in the Yakima Valley has been a bit dicey over the last couple of weeks. I have an air purifier that's been running non-stop, and the air conditioner itself helps with some of it. That said, I've been trying to figure out ways to determine how bad the air actually is, because my body has been over-reacting to it.

So the rest of this post is partly just for me... to remind me what I've learned so far.

First off, the closest monitor to my house is literally just a few blocks away - on the roof of hubby-Eric's workplace, no less. When it's active, it even has its own website: Sunnyside-S 16th St - Site Information. However, there's a bit of a catch. This website gives the WAQA, the Washington Air Quality Advisory, instead of the standard AQI (Air Quality Index).

The WAQA is basically the AQI with different cut off points. It allows for fewer particles in the air before it says, "GET INDOORS! YOUR LUNGS ARE IN DANGER!"

Also on that page are some technical bits, but I think the NPM25 ug/m^3 is the actual particles in the air.

As I'm writing this, the NPM25 ug/m^3 says 18 and the WAQA says 68.

Meanwhile, over at AIRNow - Sunnyside, the AQI is 58. I can only presume it's working off the same particle data, because this site doesn't give the actual particle number, so I cannot compare directly!

Over at Washington Smoke Information, if I click on the Sunnyside monitoring site on the map, I get a new set of numbers. There's a "Nowcast" that says 15.2, and a latest 1-hr that says 18... ah. There's a match. The latest one-hour on the Washington Smoke Info is the same as the NPM25 ug/m^3 on the site info. I think that's the link that will keep me able to compare them.

Trying to find information other than "this color means the air is unhealthy!" is difficult, though. There are tons of links, and clearly the people running the sites want to be helpful, but trying to figure out how the AQI is actually calculated has been impossible for me, so far. I'm sure I could spend another 20 hours reading up on it, but I haven't located the simple link that says "This amount of particulate combined with this factor and this other factor is how we figure out AQI". Not that I need to know. I just want to know.

So, that's the information I have so far. I'll probably keep looking, but I don't want to spend all my time on this. This post is my reminder of how far I got.