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(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
|1||West Margishward Road|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
4:56, Mar 26
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 21 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Post Falls air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Wednesday, Mar 22|
Good 47 US AQI
|Thursday, Mar 23|
Good 1 US AQI
|Friday, Mar 24|
Good 6 US AQI
Good 21 US AQI
|Sunday, Mar 26|
Good 21 US AQI
|Monday, Mar 27|
Good 25 US AQI
|Tuesday, Mar 28|
Good 14 US AQI
|Wednesday, Mar 29|
Good 13 US AQI
|Thursday, Mar 30|
Good 12 US AQI
|Friday, Mar 31|
Good 11 US AQI
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Post Falls is a city located in Kootenai County, the third most populous county within the U.S state of Idaho. Home to over 27,000 people as of 2010 (and estimated to be at 36,000 as of 2019), Post Falls is a city that is usually subject to more optimal levels of air quality, not being a particularly dangerous place to live, especially for those that have respiratory or cardiac conditions that can be aggravated by pollution exposure. However, in mid-2021, particularly towards the end of July and the beginning of August, very high readings of air pollution were seen on record, indicating that some more severe polluting events were taking place.
When such events take place, there are a number of measures that can be implemented in order to safeguard one’s health from the highly damaging effects that excessive pollution exposure can bring. These will be discussed in further detail after the pollution levels have been mentioned, and the varying conditions and problems that can arise with the corresponding US AQI and PM2.5 levels. Of note is that whilst lower pollution levels are significantly safer for one’s health, any amount of pollution and chemical contaminants in the air have a chance to cause adverse health effects. The chance for such conditions to occur, along with the severity of them, naturally rises as the pollution levels go up.
In early August of 2021, a US AQI reading of 209 was recorded, placing Post Falls into the 'very unhealthy' rating bracket. This is color-coded as purple, as with many of the higher-ranked and more dangerously polluted levels of air it has a matching dark color (with red, purple and maroon being used to indicate the highest and most hazardous levels of pollution present in the air). The color-coding system is in place for ease of use and navigation when referring to the various air quality maps, graphs and forecasts present on the page for Post Falls, as well as throughout the IQAir website.
At the time in which the US AQI reading of 209 was taken, the PM2.5 count was found to be 16 times over what the World Health Organization deems as being a safe or recommended level of exposure. Recommended actions that individuals can take during periods of such high pollution levels include wearing fine particle filtering masks, particularly when traveling outside. If outdoor movement can be avoided that would also be optimal, and when indoors, sealing off doors and windows is an appropriate measure to prevent the indoor pollution levels from rising, due to outdoor contaminants making their way in. Indoor air purifiers can also be run, if available, which are also highly effective in keeping household pollution levels to a minimum. Strenuous activities such as exercise should also be avoided to avoid breathing larger quantities of fine particles, due to increased inhalation rate during exercise or other similar activities.
Other US AQI readings that were taken over the same period include figures such as 225, once again even higher up in the 'very unhealthy' rating bracket. Days before that came in with readings of 157, 162 and 183, all of which fell within the 'unhealthy' classification. This is color-coded as red and requires a US AQI reading of anywhere between 151 to 200 to be classified as such (which the 'very unhealthy' rating requires 201 to 300 for classification). Whilst not as severe, the air quality would still present a large number of health issues as well as potential damage to the environment, due to the properties of many pollutants that are dispersed out into the atmosphere.
Whilst many of these more severe air pollution readings that came in were caused by smoke and clouds of particles given off from wildfires in surrounding regions, the air quality in Post Falls can also be extremely clean at other times, coming in with very optimal levels of air cleanliness. Whilst there is a lack of concise data from years before 2021, due to the continual addition of new cities and towns to air quality records, the US AQI readings taken in early to mid-July include readings such as 59, 71 and 79, all of which are in the 'moderate' rating bracket.
A few occurrences of readings that came in within the 'unhealthy for sensitive groups' bracket were ones such as 112 and 131, color-coded as orange and a level of air quality where those with pre-existing health conditions, particularly of the pulmonary or cardiac variety, will start to experience irritation, aggravation of mucous membranes (eyes, ears, nose and mouth) and the respiratory tract, along with a host of other adverse health conditions.
In regards to the cleaner levels of air quality that came in at the beginning of July, readings of 12, 17 and 20 were all on record, falling into the most optimal air quality rating bracket, which is color-coded as green and requires a US AQI reading of anywhere between 0 to 50. It is at times such as these when the air would be significantly freer from smoke, haze and hazardous clouds of fine particles, and all manner of outdoor activities can be conducted without the risk of any adverse health conditions occurring, or vulnerable members of the population being harmed.
A majority of the current air pollution issues are being caused by the advent of wildfires within the surrounding regions. Smoke from such fires can travel many miles, settling over cities, towns or states great distances away from the original site, causing the particle readings to skyrocket and for a large number of health issues to be incurred amongst the people living there, particularly when exposure is prolonged.
The combustion of organic material, in particular the incomplete combustion, occurs when wood, leaves or other similar plant matter is not prepared properly for burning, which involves thorough drying of said material and burning it in proper stoves or combustion units. This, however, is not the case in terms of forest fires, and many harmful chemical compounds and particles are released as a result, particularly when vast swathes of forest land and trees are burnt.
So, as it has been said, the main cause of the more severe spikes in air pollution within Post Falls comes directly from fires and related smoke and particle clouds. However, as with any city, there are numerous other causes of air pollution present, that whilst they are nowhere near as severe in nature, can aid in raising the year-round ambient pollution levels. Whilst these incur far less severe health effects, sustained exposure to moderate levels of air pollution also has its own issues, with many health problems arising as a result, some of which will be discussed in the following questions.
There are a wide-ranging number of health issues that can be incurred when one is exposed to higher levels of pollution, with even smaller concentrations having the potential to cause ill effects. The effects of ultrafine particles on an individual’s health will be discussed in further detail in the following question, but for a general overview of what pollution can do to your health, cases of dry coughs and chest infections or pain can go up.
Serious conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, ischemic heart disease and arrhythmias can all increase, with even death occurring in more severe cases. Many deaths each year are directly associated with pollution exposure and the resulting ailments, highlighting the need to not only keep one’s exposure to a minimum but also for individuals and organizations to take part in reducing the level of pollution that they are responsible for putting out.
PM2.5 is one of the most dangerous air pollutants that can be found throughout the world. Its minute size of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter (roughly 30 times smaller than a human hair), and the ability to go down to sizes many microns smaller, allows it to cause all manner of damage within the human body.
PM2.5 consists of a variety of materials, many of them with carcinogenic and other harmful properties, responsible for many of the health issues mentioned in the previous question. Some of these materials are ones such as metals, acids such as nitrates and sulfates, soot, water or other liquid droplets, organic matter, soil, dust, ultrafine minerals such as silica or gravel, along with certain types of bacteria and mold spores being counted amongst the PM2.5 collective.
As mentioned, due to its small size, it can penetrate deep into the tissue of the lungs, bypassing the body's defense systems and causing inflammation of the respiratory tract and lungs, along with scarring of the lung tissue if inhalation is sustained or the particles can sit within the lungs themselves. Besides causing localized damage to the respiratory tract, from mouth and throat down to the lungs, PM2.5 can also pass into the bloodstream via the small air sacs or alveoli that are typically used in the transportation and supplying of oxygen into the blood.
Once in the circulatory system, ultrafine particles can wreak havoc on many organ systems throughout the body, causing damage to the blood vessels, and making individuals more susceptible to developing cancer, along with triggering off allergic reactions or other harsh immune system responses that can have life-changing effects on those who have been subject to overexposure. Damage to the nervous system can also occur, which can be particularly harmful to those who are still going through developmental stages in their life and thus are even more at risk of having physical defects and cognitive issues appear, with slowed development and mental function sometimes being impaired in younger children and babies who are exposed. These are a number of the adverse effects that can occur from PM2.5 exposure, as well as some of the materials that make up the ultrafine particle collective.
Whilst no members of the population within Post Falls is truly safe from the adverse health effects that can be brought on by overexposure to pollution, with even young, fit and healthy individuals being affected by chemical and particle exposure, there are other individuals that are considered as being within the high risk demographic, with many different factors playing a part.
These include people such as young children and babies, which was touched on briefly in the previous question. Due to undergoing their vital formative years and developmental stages, any alterations to the nervous system or physical growth can have highly negative effects, many of which can turn into lifelong issues if pollution exposure is not ceased entirely, or at least minimized as much as possible (which is where the preventative measures come into play in their role in reducing said exposure).
Scarring of the lung tissue, damage to the nervous or endocrine system as well as the appearance conditions such as asthma can all contribute to stunted physical growth along with reduced mental function, delayed cognitive development and a reduction in overall quality of life as well as shaving years off an individual’s life. Babies are particularly susceptible, and can even be affected from within the mother’s womb.
This leads to the next highest at-risk group, which includes pregnant women. For mothers who are exposed when they are carrying their unborn child(s), the infant mortality rate may go up due to ultrafine particles being able to make their way to the infant. This can result in premature births, babies being born with low birth weight, as well as miscarriages also occurring. As mentioned, these all contribute to increased infant mortality rates, and as such pregnant women should take particular care to reduce their exposure levels during the vital time period.
Others include the elderly, who are also susceptible to respiratory infections, with mild conditions being able to turn into terminal cases due to infirmity, weakened immune systems and sedentary lifestyles all making those above a certain age more at-risk regarding pollution exposure. Those with compromised immune systems, or pre-existing health conditions are also vulnerable to damage, along with those that have hypersensitivity towards certain chemical compounds and ultrafine particles (which, as mentioned, can trigger off allergic responses or cause the immune system to unnecessarily go into overdrive).
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