The Treasure Valley's Air Quality Isn't Great, But Not Because Of Wildfires

Jul 16, 2013

Smoke obscures the Boise foothills about 7:30 Tuesday morning.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Air quality in the Treasure Valley hasn't been great the last couple of days. But that's not because of the wildfire burning near Boise. Michael Toole with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says the real culprit is ozone.

“It’s our summertime pollutant,” Toole says. “Basically, ozone production increases significantly where there’s not really a lot of wind, low cloud cover, no humidity, bright sunlight and high temperatures. When it gets really hot and stagnant and there’s no relief, that sunlight produces a chemical reaction at ground level that causes ozone.”

Toole says the smoke from Boise’s Pine Creek fire did push the air quality index a little higher Tuesday morning. But he says we’re not yet seeing the severe pollution we had last August and September from wildfires. Air quality in the Treasure Valley has been considered "moderate," which is fine for most people, but can pose problems for a few people with respiratory troubles.

Here's a link to the DEQ's real-time air quality monitor.

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