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Posts published in “Day: September 20, 2012”

It’s this smoky in eastern Washington

carlson
NW Reading

How smoky is it in eastern Washington? Very, the Department of Ecology said today in this statement.

Smoke is filling up the low-lying areas of Eastern Washington with weather patterns keeping a lid on most of the region with no relief in sight, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.

"Unfortunately, areas around Wenatchee remain in the worst shape," said Sean Hopkins, Ecology air quality specialist in Yakima. "At the same time, other areas are experiencing unhealthy air anywhere smoke lingers from the hundreds of wildfires that are burning."

Specifically, Ecology and Forest Service air-quality monitors in Chelan County are reading in the hazardous and unhealthy ranges. Poorer conditions are trending in the Quincy area and conditions could worsen around Spokane, Pullman and Clarkston.

Monitor measurements in Ellensburg are in the unhealthy range, but is trending better than earlier hazardous readings. Cle Elum readings by the Forest Service are moderate, showing some improvement.

All residents in the Wenatchee area should stay indoors and curtail their physical activities both indoors and out. Doors and windows should remain closed. In the remainder of the Yakima and Columbia basins common sense precautions should be taken by everyone, but sensitive groups -- such as children, the elderly and heart patients -- are particularly vulnerable.

The biggest health threat comes from the fine particles in smoke. These can cause burning eyes, runny nose, bronchitis and other illnesses. Smoky air also can aggravate pre-existing heart and lung diseases, and even lead to death.

Follow air quality online at the Washington Department of Ecology wildfire/smoke Web page: Go to Ecology's home page at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/ and click on "Wildfire smoke updates" on the right side under "Spotlight."

OR poverty rises again

carlson
NW Reading

From a statement by the Oregon Center for Public Policy released today.

Poverty in Oregon increased yet again last year, and poverty levels are particularly alarming among children and communities of color. It's time for Governor Kitzhaber and state lawmakers to develop a plan to reduce poverty.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the share of Oregonians living in poverty increased to 17.5 percent in 2011 -- up from 15.8 percent in 2010 and 12.9 percent in 2007, prior to the start of the recession.

Child poverty increased as well. Last year 23.6 percent of children in Oregon (almost 1 in 4) lived in poverty. This was up from 21.6 percent in 2010 and 16.9 percent in 2007.

Poverty levels are worse for communities of color compared to non-Hispanic whites. In 2011, the poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites in Oregon was 14.8 percent (1 in 7). By contrast, the poverty rate was 19.2 percent (1 in 5) for Asians, almost 1 in 3 for African Americans (29.7 percent), Native Americans (29.8 percent) and Latinos (29.8 percent), and more than 1 in 3 (36.2 percent) for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

The rise in poverty has a direct and immediate cost to Oregon. Last year about 662,000 Oregonians were living in poverty -- 66,000 more than the year before. The increase in the total number of people in poverty adds to the demand for public services.