YAKIMA, WA - An annual air quality report that was just released shows that during 2015-2017 Yakima's air quality was the worst ever recorded.
The report was released by the American Lung Association. In it, Yakima ranked as the sixth most polluted area in the U.S.
Yakima actually ranked higher than big cities like Los Angeles. This left many locals shocked.
"Wow! I find that really hard to believe, but you know," said George Pechtel.
"Yeah, that does surprise me. We all need to be walking around with gas masks on. Geez," said Sarah Alexander.
The information gathered to create the report came from the Environmental Protection Agency. The annual report ranked cities on ozone levels or particle pollution, both of which can be deadly.
"The Pacific Northwest and Yakima is unique in that particle pollution is the primary and most prevalent air pollutant that we have... The main source of pollution that we have in Yakima is going to be smoke from wood burning stoves, and then of course the devastating wildfire smoke," said Carrie Nyssen, Senior Director, American Lung Association.
The report indicated that Yakima received an "F" for having high particle pollution days, something that tends to happen because Yakima is a valley and air remains stagnant.
"So oftentimes what happens is smoke will come into the valley and it will just sit there because we're surrounded by tall hills on either side and we're literally in a bowl," said Nyssen.
Locals say they are not quite sure on how to help with this ongoing issue.
"I don't know what we are going to do. I wish I had an idea, I'd give it out in a minute, but I don't know," said Pechtel.
"Well like I said, one thing I try to do is walk or bike as much as I can and not start forest fires," said Alexander.
Nyssen recommends people be aware of the air quality that way they do are not exposing themselves to lung cancer and asthma attacks which can develop over time due to bad air quality.
The full 2019 State of the Air report can be accessed through the link below.