Air Quality Notifications

For more information on radon testing, and radon mitigation, contact Lucas Bair, the Spokane Tribal Air Quality Program Manager at 509-626-4403 or



Public Service Announcement

Air Quality Advisory

August 20, 2018

Air Quality is currently on the lower end of UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS and WAQA placing it at UNHEALTHY. Advisory extended to Thursday.

I have some masks at the Air Quality office at DNR. Do to limited number please only take what you feel you will use. If you have more difficulty breathing while using a mask than the smoke is affecting you, stop using. You may need to order a different mask for yourself. If you have facial hair the masks WILL NOT WORK. Need seal.

·        Smoke can cause coughing, scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, stinging eyes, runny nose.

·        If you have heart or lung disease, smoke might impact your symptoms making them worse.

·        People who have heart disease might

experience chest pain, a rapid or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and fatigue.

·        When smoke levels are high even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms.

·        The numbers in this graph show ug/m3 which gets changed to pCi/L

The colors on the map Show 1Hr Avg, 24Hr Avg and 8Hr Avg left to right on the bottom (zoom in to see properly).

Current readings show 37.5 μg/m3 on the graph which converts to 106 on the color-coded scale below.

Some precautions to help protect yourself and your family:

·       Learn what current air quality conditions are as seen by websites listed below.

·       Keep house closed with windows shut and designate main door for use.

·       If possible set air conditioner to re-circulate and fresh-air intake closed or turn them off.

·       Use a High-Efficiency Particulate (HEPA) filter on your AC if possible.

·       Portable air cleaners are recommended though you may need more than one to be effective.

·       Stay hydrated, and avoid Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Current Air Quality WELLPINIT, WA (Table 1)

lower end of lower end of Unhealthy for Sensitive

(at 5AM by monitor) read at 7am

Monitor is 2 hours behind current time. Updates 15min after the hour.

Table 1: Air Quality Index Explanation

Current AQI using the colors highlighted on first page.

37.5 μg/m3 reads as 106 AQI on this chart


The Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) bases its advice on lower levels of fine particles than the Environmental Protection Agency's national information tool, the Air Quality Index (AQI).

CURRENT WAQA VALUE (153). This number works on the AQI chart seen above, but it is always a higher value than the AQI number as to help with air quality advisories.


For Information contact:

Lucas Bair, Air Quality Program Manager

Spokane Tribe of Indians, Department of Natural Resources

P.O. Box 480

Wellpinit, WA 99040

Office: (590) 626 – 4403



Helpful Links for tracking fires and smoke:

Washington Smoke Information – Site include monitor date on air conditions, but include plenty of information on fire, smoke, and other health impacts with other links.

How to improve Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality during Wildfire Smoke Events

AirNow – Monitor data plus other resources to observe current air conditions

Here is a site that can allow you to see our monitor data.

InciWeb – Incident Information System – A source of information on current fires including status and perimeter maps when applicable.






Pay attention to air quality reports. The Air Quality Index (AQI) uses color-coded categories to report when air quality is good, moderate or unhealthy.   
Use common sense. If it looks and smells smoky outside, it is probably not a good time to go for a jog, mow the lawn or allow children to play outdoors.
Individuals with asthma or other respiratory or lung conditions should follow their provider's directions on taking medicines. They should call their provider if symptoms worsen.
If a person has heart or lung disease, is an older adult, or has children, they should talk with their provider about whether and when they should leave the area. When smoke is heavy for a prolonged period of time, fine particles can build up indoors even though a person may not see them.

Some room air cleaners can help reduce particulate levels indoors, as long as they are the right type and size for your home.

Paper "comfort" or "dust masks" are not the answer. The kinds of masks that people can commonly buy at the hardware store are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. But they generally will not protect lungs from the fine particles in smoke.

Respiratory masks labeled N95 or N100 provide some protection - they filter out some fine particles but not hazardous gases in smoke (such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and acrolein.) This type of mask can be found at many hardware and home repair stores and pharmacies.

Elevated concentrations of wildfire smoke from area fires are expected to persist through Friday. All areas east of the Cascades and into north Idaho can expect smoky air quality. Many areas may deteriorate to unhealthy to hazardous levels. Areas immediately downwind of wildfire plumes will experience the greatest smoke and health impacts. All other areas will continue to have impaired visibility and elevated levels of smoke particulate.

Expect valleys to have higher smoke levels in the evening through early morning hours.

Precautions to be taken for areas experiencing increased smoke and reduced air quality include...

*everyone should avoid heavy work or exercise outdoors when the air quality index reaches unhealthy levels.

*Older adults, small children, and those with respiratory conditions or heart disease may be more sensitive to poor air quality and should stay indoors and avoid heavy work when air quality reaches unhealthy levels.

*Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated helps dilute phlegm in the respiratory tract, making it easier to cough out smoke particles. Plan on coughing; it is nature's way of clearing your lungs. Avoid caffeine products, sugary drinks and alcohol because they have a dehydrating effect.

*Stay cool if the weather is warm. Run your air conditioner to recirculate air. Turn the Fan blower on manually so it continuously filters the air in your home.



The Spokane Tribe is one of six Tribes in the Nation that have been approved for a Federal Class I Redesignation. The redesignation of the Spokane Indian Reservation was approved in 1991. This designation determines the amount of pollution that is allowed from both on and off reservation sources. It protects the air quality on the Reservation, allowing the Spokane Tribe to impose the most stringent control requirements on nearby sources. This is done by reviewing permits for new sources and modifications to existing sources that may impact our air quality. 

More information on Tribes with Class 1 Redesignation:

The primary goal of the Air Quality Program is to protect the human health and the environment through monitoring, education and outreach, and implementing air quality regulations under the Clean Air Act and the Federal Air Rules for Indian Reservations in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (FARR-

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 of certain materials that produce toxic chemicals.  If you are burning, DO NOT BURN:


Junk vehicles and tires


Building materials

Oil and paint

Treated wood


Light bulbs
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.

Photo taken at the Wellpinit Dump in 2004, before the FARR was implemented.

Spokane Tribal Law and Order Code Section 49-5.03 (Open Burning):

Individuals must have a burn permit, follow burn ban rules and only burn acceptable materials including paper and or cardboard to start the fire and yard clippings, brush and vegetation.    Violations are subject to a minimum fine of $250.00 and maximum fine of $5,000.00 per incident.  To report an open burning violation, call  626-4418 or 626-4403.

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



Currently the Air Quality Program is working on two projects; the first is a Reservation wide Emissions Inventory.  This will give our program an idea of what types of air pollution sources are in our community and how that changes over time.  One of the sources we are looking at is the type of heat that is used around the Reservation.  The second project is related to updating road names and physical addresses throughout the Reservation. 

We would appreciate if you would return this survey to our office or call us with your answers at the number below.  It should take less than a minute to complete.


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 Lucas Bair at 509-626-4403 or


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 Lucas Bair, the Spokane Tribal Air Quality Program Manager at 509-626-4403 or


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 Lucas at 509-626-4403 or email to schedule an appointment. 






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



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 Award

SPOKANE, 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.