Air Quality Notifications
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|| Residents of the Spokane Reservation have access to data collected at a real-time air quality monitor that records the hourly concentrations of particulates. The monitoring site is located in Wellpinit and data can be accessed any time at:
(Seattle– Nov 25,2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will call and continue burn bans on all outdoor burning for some Indian reservations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho due to stagnant air conditions as a high pressure system continues in the region. This burn bans will be in place until further notice was reviewed on Wednesday, November 27th. The burn ban for the Spokane Reservation is extended until the morning of Sunday, December 1st.
The burn ban applies to all outdoor and agricultural burning, including camping and recreational fires within reservation boundaries. Ceremonial and traditional fires are exempt from the outdoor burn ban.
EPA also requests that reservation residents reduce all sources of air pollution, including excess driving and idling of vehicles, and the use of woodstoves and fireplaces, unless it is your only source of heat.
Air pollution can have significant health impacts. Cooperation from the community will help people who are at risk during burn bans. Those most at risk are children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with difficulty breathing and with heart and lung problems. Those at risk should avoid outdoor exercise and minimize exposure to outdoor pollution as much as possible.
- Burn Ban: November 25-December 1, 2013
- Burn Advisory: September 20-27, 2012
- Burn Advisory: September 10-17, 2012
- February 3 - February 7, 2012.
- December 7 - December 20, 2011.
AIR QUALITY ON THE SPOKANE INDIAN RESERVATION
More information on Tribes with Class 1 Redesignation: http://www.fcpotawatomi.com/air-resource-program/class-i-redesignation/class-i-for-tribes
The Federal Air Rules for Indian Reservations (FARR) are air quality regulations established to protect human health and the environment within the boundary of the reservation. The rule which affects most Tribal members is the burning rule.
There are restrictions on open burning certain materials that produce toxic chemicals. If you are burning, DO NOT BURN:
Junk vehicles and tires
Oil and paint
Other chemicals and materials that emit dense smoke or noxious fumes when burned.
There are some exceptions, and those include yard waste (natural vegetation), campfires, and cultural fires.
If you would like more information about FARR, or have an air quality complaint, you can call the FARR Hotline at 1-800-424-4EPA (4372). Tribal staff and EPA will collaborate to address issues raised on the hotline and follow up with all calls. If you have additional questions, feel free to call the Air Quality Program at 509-626-4403 or email email@example.com.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Wood smoke can be detrimental to your health in the winter months. The smoke from burning wood and wood-based products contains fine particles (soot) and a toxic mix of other carcinogens, which are harmful to your health, particularly for young children, older adults and people with respiratory and heart disease. During stagnant weather conditions, concentrations of wood smoke can reach harmful levels.
Long-term exposures, such as those experienced by people living for many years in areas with high particle levels, have been associated with problems such as reduced lung function and the development of chronic bronchitis—and even premature death.
Short-term exposures to particles (hours or days) can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. 674 respiratory related cases have been treated at the local Indian Health Service Clinic in 2010.
Local and regional agencies often announce burn bans for the Spokane Region, due to temperature inversions that trap contaminants. Burn bans on the Reservations in the region are limited to outdoor and agricultural burning; ceremonial and traditional fires are exempt. During burn bans, which usually only last a couple of days, reservation residents are encouraged to reduce all sources of air pollution, including excess driving and idling of vehicles, and the use of woodstoves and fireplaces, unless it is your only source of heat.
To ensure you are burning clean, remember these steps:
- burn a small, hot fire using dry wood
- provide plenty of air to your fire to fully burn
- check your chimney for smoke after a 20-minute start-up period
- a properly adjusted stove should have little or no smoke once the fire gets started
- burn only clean dry (seasoned) wood or pellets
- trash burning is never allowed —this creates toxic air pollutants
Because wood stoves are often the main source of heat for Reservation residents across the country, Tribal Leaders have been pushing for years for legislation and funding that would provide for a woodstove replacement program for Tribal Communities. The National Congress of American Indians signed a Resolution in 2008 in support of the legislation. In the meantime, there may be funding available for low interest loans or tax rebates for purchasing updated wood stoves. If you would like more information or if you have concerns about your woodstove, contact Twa-le Abrahamson at 509-626-4403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our reservation has natural geology that accounts for potentially high radon gas levels in our homes, schools and offices. Previous testing on the Reservation has consistently showed levels that have exceeded EPA’s action limit of 4pCi/L, but those studies were done many years ago.
Radon is a natural radioactive gas caused by the breakdown of uranium in soil. It can enter into homes through cracks and gaps that may not be visible. The construction and geographic location of a home can affect the amount of radon that is present inside. In fact, two homes next door to one another could have very different levels of radon inside. It is important to measure a home’s level of radon because it poses a serious health risk, especially at elevated levels.
Over time, exposure to elevated levels of radon can cause lung cancer. In fact, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smoking adults, claiming more than 20,000 lives annually in the United States alone. The good news is, if a home has a high level of radon, it can be mitigated, usually at low cost and in a short amount of time.
The Spokane Tribal Air Quality Program and the Spokane Indian Housing Authority will be testing schools, homes and Tribal offices for radon. Testing will assist us in identifying if Reservation residents are at increased health risks from radon gas and if mitigation may be necessary. Testing will be performed in phases due to time and weather limitations and the number of homes on the Reservation. For more information on radon testing, and radon mitigation, contact Twa-le Abrahamson, the Spokane Tribal Air Quality Coordinator at 509-626-4403 or email@example.com.
The Spokane Tribal Air Quality Program was also featured on a national radio show: “Radon and Indoor Air Quality in Indian Country” on Native America Calling in January 2012. If you’d like to listen to a recording, you can hear it on www.nativeamericacalling.com/nac_past.shtml
ASTHMA AND INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease that affects the quality of life for thousands of Native Americans. Although there is no cure for asthma yet, asthma can be controlled through medical treatment and management of environmental triggers. The Spokane Tribal Air Quality staff is committed to educating parents and staff at the Wellpinit School District about asthma so that everyone knows what asthma is, how the environment can affect asthma patients and how to manage environmental asthma triggers.
Asthma Rates are Higher in Tribal Communities
- 12% of people living in tribal communities – nearly double the current national average of 7%
- 13% of American Indian/Alaska Native children compared to 8.9% of children in the U.S.
Effectively managing a child's asthma can best be accomplished by working with your doctor to develop a plan that includes the use of medications and avoidance of environmental triggers. Since children spend most of their time in schools, day care facilities or at home, it is important to reduce their exposure to environmental asthma triggers as much as possible in each of these environments.
If you would like to schedule a FREE in-home visit to assist with identification of asthma triggers in the home which are simple and low cost to address or would like more information on indoor air quality and asthma, contact Twa-le at 509-626-4403 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.
Photo: Twa-le Abrahamson, Spokane Tribal Air Quality Coordinator and InnerTribal Beat Host, accepting the EPA Clean Air Excellence Award in Washington DC from Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation.
Spokane Tribal Air Quality Program and KYRS Thin Air Community Radio Awarded an EPA Clean Air Excellence AwardSPOKANE, WASHINGTON (September 25, 2012) – Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented the 12th annual Clean Air Excellence Awards honoring 11 projects and companies from across the United States for their work on clean air initiatives. The awards recognize innovative programs that protect Americans' health and the environment, educate the public, serve their communities and stimulate the economy.