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Enumclaw, Beijing — there’s a lot in common

Post by News Tribune Staff on Aug. 15, 2008 at 11:40 am with No Comments »
August 15, 2008 11:40 am

I’m about to jump in the car and head to Enumclaw, which typically has the worst smog levels on this side of the state.

But before I went, I called the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. I wanted to know what the poor Enumclawers (Enumclawians? Enumclawans?) did to deserve the worst air quality in the area.

Turns out, they can blame Seattle. And Everett. And Bellevue. And basically everyone in that giant sprawling urban mass where people drive everywhere, spewing the elements of smog into the air. If it’s cool and wind aplenty, no problem. If it’s hot (by Washington standards), then Enumclaw gets a larger-than-average dose of O3

"The wind is very, very low speed during these events," said Dave Kircher, the manager for air resources at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. "And it typically comes out of the north. And it’s affected by geography and geology of the area. That airmass moves down the mountains and ends up in the Enumclaw area. It’s kind of funneled down there."

But if you think your South King County brethren are choking on a Beijing-like haze, rest assured it ain’t that bad.

"Depending on how sensitive you are, you might detect more of an impact in Enumclaw than you would other places," Kircher said. "But it really depends on sensitivity. Our levels are nothing like you’d experience in Houston or Southern California. If you go to LA during a really bad time, even if you’re a healthy person, you’ll feel a difference."

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