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Protecting the Air Quality | Spokane, WA
Air Quality
  • Polluted air makes it harder to breathe for anyone, young or old, whose lungs are compromised.  
  • Cars are Spokane’s largest source of air pollution.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are required in all Washington State homes (effective January 1, 2013).  The alarms are required in 1)  new construction, 2) all existing residences including apartments, rental properties, condos, hotels, dormitories and residential institutions, and 3) single-family homes when they are sold or when home owners apply for a remodeling permit.  They can be either hard-wired or battery powered.
Installation Requirements: 
1)  Alarms must be located outside of each separate sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the    bedroom and on each level of the residence.
2)  Single station carbon monoxide alarms must be listed as complying with UL 2034, and installed in accordance with the code and the manufacturer’s instructions.
3)  Combined CO and smoke alarms are permitted.

  • In 2013, Spokane County had one day where air quality exceeded the standard for particulate pollution.  From 2009 to 2013, the rate of poor air quality remained stable. The average proportion of days in this five-year period that did not meet the standard was 0.24%.  (Spokane Counts 2015, p. 12, Spokane Regional Health District)

  • Radon Gas.  Spokane (over 20 pCi/L) has much higher levels of radon gas than the national average (1.3 pCi/L).  The EPA recommends that all homes that are 4.0 or higher be mitigated.  The EPA also says that 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has high levels of radon gas which is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.  
    Radon Testing and Mitigation, America's Home Inspection Service,
    State's Highest Radon Levels Found in Spokane County, AP, 8-22-94 
What You Can Do
  • Plant Trees.  They beautify and make the air cleaner by taking a lot of pollutants out of the air and converting CO2 into oxygen.  In addition, people like greenery, and green has a calming effect on people.
  • Vehicle Pollution.  Help reduce smog-forming pollutants from vehicles:
Refuel your vehicles after 5 p.m.  This keeps vapors out of the air during the heat of the day when smog forms.

Stop at the first “click” when you fill your gas tank.  This reduces the amount of gas vapors that escape into the air.   (Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency)

Emissions testing. 
Cars need to be retested every 2 years. If it's your turn, your registration renewal notice will indicate that you need an emissions inspection in order to renew your tabs.
  • In addition to registration, Washington vehicles also need to be tested for emissions when either of the following happens:
    • Title transfer and change of ownership of the vehicle, unless the transfer is within the immediate family or among co-owners listed on the title.
    • You bring a vehicle from another state to one of the Washington emissions-requirement counties listed above.

  • Each of the following vehicles is exempt from emissions testing:
    • Electric vehicles.
    • Hybrid vehicles that have a city driving miles-per-gallon rating of 50 mpg or more (as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
    • Compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.
    • Propane-powered vehicles.
    • Diesel vehicles older than 2007 (weighing 6,000 lbs or less).
    • Diesel vehicles model-year 2007 and newer (no weight limit).
    • Motorcycles
      (Source:  Larry H. Miller Hyundai Spokane  (855) 976-7201)
  • Ride a Bike.  Ride a bicycle for exercise, to save money, and to protect our air quality.
  • Gas powered Lawn Tools. 
  • Gas powered tools used to keep our lawns in shape—mowers, edgers and weed whackers—contribute to the stagnant air that gets trapped in our community, especially in the summer.  
    • Use gas-powered lawn equipment in evening hours only.
    • Switch to manual, electric or battery-operated yard and garden tools.    (Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency)  
  • Lawn Mowers.  Lawn mowers without catalytic converters on them emit an enormous amount of air pollution.   Using one gasoline-powered mower for an hour pollutes as much as 40 late-model cars; and weed eaters and leaf blowers pollute even more.  Scientists estimate that lawn care contributes to about 5-10% of the air pollution in this country in the summer.  
Consider investing in a manual, non-motorized reel mower.  Reel mowers produce no harmful emissions, and emit no exhaust into your face and your neighborhood’s air. They are light-weight and easy to push (unlike the reel mowers of 50 years ago).  They leave behind healthier grass plants because they “snip” instead of tearing the grass blades.  They are whisper quiet while you enjoy a brisk walk and some resistance training.  They are virtually maintenance-free.  Occasionally, the bearings and cutting edges may need a little lubricant and a slight adjustment; and the cutters will need to be sharpened every couple of years.  They take up less space in the garage, and take less of a bite out of your budget.  Reel mowers are best suited to smaller yards (1/4 acre or less). 
Additional Resources
For the latest air quality reports, go to these websites:
Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority (SCAPCA)
Call before burning. 
Call for air quality information
(509) 477-6828

American Lung Assn of WA
Seattle, WA