Sunday, September 20, 2020
Sept. 20, 2020

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Air quality remains hazardous today, with little improvement expected Sunday

Relief not forecast until a weather system reaches the area on Monday

By , Columbian Metro Editor

Air quality remains at hazardous levels throughout Clark County with no improvement expected today and only minor improvements expected Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

At 5 p.m., the Washington Department of Ecology reported small particulate (PM 2.5) pollution levels at 411 in Vancouver and 356 in Yacolt, both readings are in the “hazardous” range.

Conditions are worse in the Columbia River Gorge, with a mobile air quality station in White Salmon recording a level of 500.

Pollutants in smoke can cause burning eyes, runny nose, aggravate heart and lung diseases, and aggravate other serious health problems.

The system rates air quality as good (0 to 50), moderate (51 to 100), unhealthy for sensitive groups (101-150), unhealthy (151-200) and very unhealthy 201 to 300. Any reading above 300 is considered hazardous.

At hazardous levels, people should stay indoors, avoid all strenuous activity, close windows and doors if it’s not too hot, set your air conditioner to recirculate and use a HEPA air filter if possible. People with heart or lung disease, or those who have had a stroke, should consult their health care provider about leaving the area and wearing a properly-fitted respiratory mask if they must go outdoors.

A smoke air quality advisory remains in effect for all of Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon, including coastal areas, through Monday.

A National Weather Service forecast discussion said minor improvements in air quality are possible Sunday, as a more southwest flow aloft starts pushing smoke back to the north and east, but significant improvements are unlikely until Monday.

A frontal system is forecast to push inland later Monday night into Tuesday with periods of rain followed by more seasonal weather with a chance of showers and an onshore flow of winds for the rest of the week.

Council for the Homeless asks anyone who is homeless and needing shelter or housing assistance during these hazardous conditions to call the Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677 to learn about available resources. The hotline is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

To aid the homeless community, Living Hope Church in central Vancouver is moving its tent encampment indoors until air quality improves. The city-sanctioned encampment has been in the church’s parking lot to provide a safe space for people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Christian church, which occupies a former Kmart at 2711 N.E. Andresen Road, announced Thursday night it’s open to wildfire evacuees, said Pastor Brian Norris. The Sikh community, which has provided meals for the homeless at the church most Sundays for the last few months, offered to make additional meals for evacuees if needed.