There are claims that we've been exposed to the worst air in the world. True? Fair comparison? Let's investigate that without belittling the terrible air quality conditions we've all had to endure for at least a week now.
Here's a map of global air quality right now. It uses all available measurements worldwide and uses machine learning methods for spatially interpolation. US west coast is in baaad shape. Worst ranked cities right now are all in our neck of the woods.
The above figure shows how air quality in Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver, Omak and Yakima have varied from 1 Jan- 15 Sept 2020, against the backdrop of IQRs at ten embassies. As can be seen, the overseas cities experience terribly compromised air quality primarily in the winter months. Right now is their "better" season. Even though we spiked right to the top of the AQI chart this week, bear in mind that:
- All these overseas locations see concentrations that are higher than their own IQRs 25% of the time. Or put another way, they record even higher concentrations for 3 months of the year.
- Our air will not remain this bad for several months. Most WA sites have experienced some improvement already and we're still on track to clear out in the Friday- Saturday timeframe.
- In spite of our wintertime temperature inversions and woodsmoke concerns, we're still in far better shape at that time of year.
Moral of the story: yes its bad here now. Many others have it worse for much longer. Folks who live in these environments and our diplomats serving there can offer us some coping tips.