|1||Three Rivers, California|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 36 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 8.8 µg/m³|
PM2.5 concentration in Klamath Falls air is currently 0 times above the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Open your windows to bring clean, fresh air indoors|
|Enjoy outdoor activities|
|Saturday, Sep 18|
Good 22 US AQI
|Sunday, Sep 19|
Good 15 US AQI
|Monday, Sep 20|
Good 16 US AQI
Good 36 US AQI
|Wednesday, Sep 22|
Good 33 US AQI
|Thursday, Sep 23|
Good 18 US AQI
|Friday, Sep 24|
Good 18 US AQI
|Saturday, Sep 25|
Good 23 US AQI
|Sunday, Sep 26|
Good 24 US AQI
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Klamath Falls is a city located in Oregon, being the county seat of Klamath County, an area that is home to an estimated 66,000 people (as of 2010), and is one of 36 counties found within the state of Oregon. The city itself has a population of approximately 21,700 people as of 2019 and has seen some occurrences of high levels of pollution in current times as well as years past. The causes of higher pollution readings come from a multitude of sources, with the most prominent ones of late being caused by forest fires continuing to burn throughout the state, causing huge clouds of smoke, haze and dangerous clouds of fine particles (PM10 and PM2.5) to permeate the atmosphere, causing the pollution levels to go up to hazardous levels. These heightened levels have many detrimental effects on the health of those in proximity to the fires and other such polluting events or areas (such as busy roads or industrial sites).
In July of 2021, Klamath Falls presented with a US AQI reading of 155, a high figure that placed the city into the 'unhealthy' rating bracket for the particular day and time in which the reading was taken. An 'unhealthy' rating is color-coded as red (with the higher and more dangerous levels of air pollution having respective darker colors, with red, purple and maroon used to signal the worst levels of air quality).
This rating requires a US AQI reading anywhere between 151 to 200 to be classed as such, and as the name indicates, the air quality would pose many risks to all members of the population, in particular those who fall into vulnerable demographics. US AQI refers the United States Air Quality Index, a number that is aggregated from the various main pollutants found in the air. The United States part is referred to due to the more stringent rules and regulations in place in regards to the measurement system in place, hence the prevalence of its use globally, due to penalizing poor air quality levels. The main pollutants used to calculate the US AQI level are sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO) and the two forms of fine particles, PM10 and PM2.5.
With 'unhealthy' readings, the general public would start to experience respiratory irritation and aggravation of pre-existing health conditions. Groups of people who would be most affected would be ones such as pregnant women, young children, and babies. Due to the younger demographic still undergoing their more vital developmental stages, interference and health problems caused by hazardous particles and chemical compounds can cause large amounts of damage, with the nervous system and many organs throughout the body being affected. This can lead to stunted growth, cognitive impairment, and a myriad of other developmental issues. Pregnant women exposed to higher levels of air pollution may also be at risk of having their babies born with low weight, prematurely, or having a miscarriage occur.
Young children and babies who are affected by the respiratory or dermal irritation that pollution brings can also develop rashes and respiratory issues such as asthma. If exposure is high enough or continues to occur over long periods of time, they may turn into lifelong conditions, which can have an impact on a person’s quality of life. Other vulnerable groups are ones such as the elderly, who are also particularly at-risk to respiratory infections, due to frail health or weakened immune systems. Others include those with pre-existing health conditions, as well as individuals with hypersensitivity towards particles or other chemical pollutants.
Referring back to the levels of air pollution present in Klamath Falls in 2021, as mentioned there were a series of fires occurring nearby that caused these dangerous elevations. Other readings of US AQI that came in throughout the event were ones such as 76 and 100, both of which fell into the 'moderate' rating bracket (color-coded as yellow and requiring a US AQI reading of 51 to 100), as well as 109 and 134, moving up further into the 'unhealthy for sensitive groups' bracket (color-coded as orange and requiring a reading of 101 to 150 to be classified as such). These readings preceded the higher ones shown above, and forecasts also showed many more days of expected pollution elevations.
During times such as these, preventative measures should be put into place to safeguard one’s health from the highly damaging effects that breathing polluted air brings. These will typically be displayed on the top of this page along with readings that go over safe levels, and include ones such as wearing fine particle filtering masks, avoiding outdoor activities, particularly if they are strenuous ones such as sports or exercise. Doors and windows can also be sealed to prevent the flow of polluted air into houses, as well as running air purifiers if possible. Those who belong to the above-mentioned vulnerable demographics should take extra care to utilize such measures should the need arise. Furthermore, air quality forecasts and hourly updates can be followed, either from the air quality map and graph on this page, as well as via the AirVisual app. Regular checks should be maintained to ascertain the most concise data and act accordingly.
With its resulting high levels of US AQI present in the air in Klamath Falls, the PM2.5 count was also seen to be six times over what the World Health Organization's (WHO's) exposure recommendation is, meaning that the air would be permeated with large amounts of hazardous particles. These ultrafine particles consist of several different materials, many of them with highly damaging effects.
The materials that can be counted as part of the PM2.5 collective include finely ground dust or silica, sulfates, metal, water vapors and other liquids, soot or elemental and organic carbon, and other materials such as microplastics. Regarding their size (which is minute in nature, hence the danger to health that it poses), PM2.5 is any material that is 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, roughly 30 times smaller than that of a human hair, and with the potential to go down to sizes many times smaller.
As mentioned, the heightened levels of air pollution largely came from the smoke emitted from the fires, or as it was being referred to locally, the Bootleg fire. Local sources indicated that the blaze was particularly severe, and was spreading rapidly through the southern portion of the state, with the fire doubling in size for every day that passed over a three-day period near its conception.
With large amounts of organic material being burnt, the result is huge plumes of smoke that contain within them many different chemicals and fine particles (some of which will be mentioned in further detail in the following questions) entering the atmosphere, reducing visibility and causing damage to vast portions of the environment and subsequent ecosystems in close proximity.
In 2020, Klamath Falls came in with a PM2.5 yearly average of 16.5 μg/m³, placing it into the 'moderate' rating bracket. When referring to the rating system for PM2.5, it is taken in micrograms per cubic meter, as opposed to the US AQI reading which is calculated from the volume of the main pollutants in the air, as an aggregate. This reading placed Klamath Falls in 1183rd place out of all cities ranked worldwide throughout 2020, as well as putting it in 112th place out of all cities ranked in the USA. This is a fairly high placing in terms of air pollution, showing that the air quality in mid-2021 was not the only time that the city was experiencing diminished air cleanliness.
Heightened readings taken towards the end of the year also indicate that Klamath Falls had further accumulations of polluted air, from both fires as well as other polluting events, with meteorological conditions sometimes compounding such readings. A lack of rain or strong winds to tamp down or remove pollution can lead to particles gathering to the extent that the PM2.5 reading spikes significantly.
Regarding other sources of air pollution present in Klamath Falls, they would be ones such as emissions from vehicles. Many cars and personal vehicles would be in use on the road at any given time, and with a rising population and growing vehicle ownership, these problems may be compounded in the years to come if alternative fuel sources or transportation methods are not properly set up. Larger freight vehicles would also be in use throughout the city, many of which utilize diesel as their fuel source. This fossil fuel can give out larger amounts of pollution when combusted, and the great size and weight of these vehicles can add further to the pollutive output, especially when contrasted with smaller vehicles that run on cleaner fuel sources.
All vehicles can also put out large amounts of microscopic rubber particles into the air over time, with the eventual wear and tear of tire treads leading to these particles contaminating bodies of water, the soil as well as entering the atmosphere.
Other sources of pollution include the creation of secondary pollutants such as ozone. This can form when the various oxides of nitrogen (NOx) are exposed to higher amounts of solar radiation, forcing a chemical reaction, with the heavier ozone molecule often coalescing in areas that see a high level of traffic, reducing visibility (particularly in more busy cities) and causing inflammation, nausea and headaches to those who are exposed. Whilst it is a vital part of the stratosphere (the ozone layer) when on ground level it is a pollutant with highly damaging properties. Primary pollutants are created directly from a source, such as fire, car engine or factory boiler, whilst secondary pollutants are formed afterward in the atmosphere, under the correct meteorological conditions.
Observing the air quality data gathered over the course of 2020 as a more concise measure of when Klamath Falls was subject to higher levels of pollution, one can see that many months were significantly more elevated than others. January through to March, as well as August through to December all came in with 'moderate' readings of pollution and above.
January to March presented with readings of 12.7 μg/m³, 15.4 μg/m³ and 13.1 μg/m³ respectively, before the air quality improved significantly. Around July the air quality started to deteriorate again, with August through to December presenting with readings of 17 μg/m³, 46 μg/m³, 17.8 μg/m³, 18.5 μg/m³ and 22.7 μg/m³. This placed September into the most polluted spot in 2020, with its reading of 46 μg/m³ placing it within the 'unhealthy for sensitive groups' bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of 35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³.
Observing the air quality from years past, it is also clear that the city has had numerous issues with air pollution, with 2017 through to 2020 coming in with figures of 13.2 μg/m³ in 2017, 18.9 μg/m³ in 2018, a much improved 9.1 μg/m³ in 2019, before returning up to 16.5 μg/m³ in 2020. Out of the last four years, 2019 was the only year to fall within the WHO's target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less, for the most optimal quality of air.
In closing, it appears that Klamath Falls is subject to higher levels of air pollution towards the end of the year, also seeing milder elevations at the start of the year.
Despite the heightened levels of pollution that appeared over many months, in 2020, April through to June all came in with particularly good levels of air quality, presenting with readings of 9.6 μg/m³, 6.1 μg/m³ and 2.9 μg/m³ (as well as July coming in at 10.5 μg/m³, placing it in the 'good' rating bracket).
The month of June showed exceptionally clean air, a time in which the atmosphere would be significantly freer from smoke, haze, smog and other contaminating pollutants.