Southern Idaho Could Be In For Another Bad Air Summer

Jul 17, 2013

Boise Sky about 9:45 a.m. September 20, 2012
Credit Aaron Kunz / Earthfix

Wednesday’s air quality forecast in the Treasure Valley is for “moderate” conditions, which can cause health issues for some people with respiratory problems.

It’s been that way for several days now mainly because of ozone pollution, not wildfire smoke. Ozone is the most common reason for bad air during Idaho summers, but last year was a different story says Michael Toole with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality.

“Last year, we had essentially two months solid of smoke coming through our area with all the different wildfires in our region and here in Idaho,” Toole says.

August and September saw few days with healthy air over much of southern Idaho. Toole says particle pollution from smoke was particularly bad.

“The levels we saw were higher than we had seen in, I believe, a decade from wildfire smoke activity,” he says.

In fact it was the worst stretch of air quality Toole can remember in his 15 years monitoring it in Idaho.

He says with predictions for this year’s wildfire season, there’s no reason to believe this summer will be much different. He says the Treasure Valley could have air quality concerns well into the fall.