High levels of pollution reported in Washington throughout 2020

WA - The WashPIRG Foundation and the Environment Washington Research and Policy Center came out with a new report which showed high levels of air pollution in Washington throughout 2020.

WashPIRG is an independent and nonpartisan organization that works for consumers and public interest. The research and policy center dedicates their time to protecting air, water and open spaces. 

The report focused on the ozone and bad particulates in the air that are caused by burning fossil fuels and wildfires. The two main causes of the poor air quality was transportation and wildfires. 

According to Mandy Apa, campaign associate for Environment Washington Research and Policy, wildfires have only gotten worse because of climate change.

"We've known for decades that burning fossil fuels pollutes our air and contributes to climate change, which we are now experiencing in our daily lives," Apa said. "Climate change has resulted in hotter, dryer circumstances that have increased the frequency and severity of wildfires."

According to WashPIRG, Seattle had a total of 247 days of elevated air pollution and Spokane had 104 in 2020. 

Foundation Advocate for WashPIRG Nicole Walter said that is unacceptable.

"Even one day of breathing in polluted air is dangerous for our health," Walter said. "Several weeks and months is unacceptable and we need to do more to deliver cleaner air to our communities."

According to Apa, breathing in polluted air can affect our lungs, hearts, brains and mental health. It can also cause premature death. It especially affects vulnerable groups like pregnant women, children and seniors. 

"It will get even worse unless we reduce the dust and the smoke and the smog that choke our air and cook our planet," Apa said. 

In the environmental report, the groups make suggestions as to how we can prevent worse air pollution for future generations such as electrifying cars and buildings, the use of solar panels and making way for policy's to allow these changes.