When Kathy Schwartz, RN, director of the Wasco Sherman Public Health Department, read the article, she wondered why the health department wasn't among the first to know.
"I called the DEQ
and said, ,What's happening?'" Schwartz
then approached the Wasco County Court
to establish an air quality task force.The panel was established with city of The Dalles agreement.It includes members from the health community, local fire and other government agencies, and businesses representing the sanitation and wood stove sale industries, as well as interested citizens."The mantra of the task force is that no particulate matter is good," Schwartz
said."It's all bad.,,I think a lot of us who have lived here certainly have believed there are a percentage of days that have bad air quality, starting in November and going through March," Schwartz
said.November is when inversion layers begin to settle around this end of the Columbia Gorge like a pot on a kettle, creating calm, chilly days that don't allow winds to be scour the air free of wood smoke and other pollutants, as it may be at other times of the year.Air quality indicators in Wasco County
have been tracked at least since 1999, Schwartz
"We can't say air quality caused it," Schwartz
cautioned, "but, hypothetically, the spikes in respiratory illness do somewhat corrolate.
The system is voluntary, Schwartz
air quality doesn't fall into the "unhealthy" ranges, Schwartz
noted, although under new federal standards it sometimes falls into the barely acceptable zone."That doesn't mean people can't be affected," Schwartz