Wildfires Bring Worst Treasure Valley Air Quality In A Decade

Aug 13, 2012

An official with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says the Treasure Valley is experiencing the worst air quality since a bad winter inversion in 2002. Smoke from wildfires around the region have kept the air quality index between 101 and 150 for several days. That’s the orange category. 

It means the air could be unhealthy for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly, and people with respiratory problems. Sunday the Valley’s air registered in the red category. That’s unhealthy for everyone. Mike Toole, the regional air-shed manager, says they had expected another "orange" day.

“The best estimation we had was going to be an upper level orange, you know 140, 145," Toole says. "What happened is we were allowed no relief whatsoever throughout the afternoon and evening. And those levels stayed quite a bit higher than anticipated. And it did push us over that threshold there and did put us in the unhealthy at about a 157.”

Toole says the factors that contribute to air quality can change quickly. That means predications can be wrong. Tomorrow on Morning Edition we’ll explain how the DEQ makes predictions and determines the air quality index.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio