Air quality studies

We sometimes conduct special studies to better understand air quality issues in a specific location and identify ways to improve air quality. When we develop these studies, we often partner with research facilities such as Washington State University. 

A hazy Mount Rainier as seen from Yakima.

Ozone studies

Ozone high in the atmosphere protects people from the sun's harmful radiation. But ground-level ozone harms people and plants. It forms when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react with each other in sunlight and hot temperatures. This pollution comes from vehicles, industry, and other sources and contributes to smog formation.

Although the state currently meets the national ozone standards, we continue to watch the following areas closely:

  • Western foothills of Cascade Mountains
  • Tri-Cities area (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland)

View a fully functional and enlarged version of this map.

Tri-Cities Ozone Precursor Study

In summer 2016, we partnered with Washington State University and the Benton Clean Air Agency to conduct the Tri-Cities Ozone Precursor Study. This study measured precursors of ozone, including nitrogen and volatile organic compounds at two sites in the Tri-Cities, as well as from a mobile platform that drove throughout the region. 

What happens next

We 're partnering with Benton Clean Air Agency to identify and implement reduction measures and raise public awareness. Meanwhile, you can take several important steps to reduce ozone in your community.

To learn more read the full report, view the brochure, or browse through the storymap below.

Particulate matter studies

One of the air quality issues facing Washington is particle pollution, especially those particles that are 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) in diameter or smaller. These particles can pass through the throat and nose into the lungs.

People with heart or lung diseases, children, and older adults are more likely to be irritated by particle pollution exposure. These particles can compromise health by causing:

  • An earlier death in people with heart or lung disease.
  • Higher chance of heart attacks.
  • Airway irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing, and increased asthma symptoms.
Read about the studies we conducted: