BOISE, Idaho — Air quality across the state is getting worse, according to a new report from the American Lung Association, and much of the blame can be attributed to wildfires.
Idaho is now home to several of the top 25 most polluted areas in the country.
2019 "State of the Air" report tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous, and even lethal.
The spikes are increasing in frequency and intensity, and several areas of the state experienced more days on average of higher particle pollution usually during wildfire season, according to the report.
"People in Idaho should know that we're breathing unhealthy air, and much of this unhealthy air is driven by wildfires that are a result of climate change," said Heather Kimmel, Health Promotions Director for the American Lung Association in Idaho in a press release. "Such polluted air places our health and lives at risk. The 'State of the Air' report highlights that more than four in 10 Americans are living with unhealthy air, and we have to do more to protect public health."
The Logan Utah-Idaho, Coeur d'Alene-Spokane Valley and Pocatello areas ranked as the 11th, 15th and 25th most polluted areas for short-term particle pollution respectively in the U.S., worse than last year.
Lemhi and Shoshone counties ranked 15th and 17th most-polluted for annual particle pollution respectively.
No Idaho county in the report received higher than a "D" grade for particle pollution.
Each year the "State of the Air" provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution, also known as smog, and particle pollution, also called soot.
Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects.
"Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices. These particles are so small that they can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, and worse," said Kimmel.
Here is a ranking of the Top 25 most polluted cities for short-term particle pollution:
1. Bakersfield, CA
2. Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CA
3. Fairbanks, AK
4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
5. Missoula, MT
6. Yakima, WA
7. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
8. Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, UT
9. Seattle-Tacoma, WA
10. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV
11. Logan, UT-ID
12. Visalia, CA
13. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ
14. El Centro, CA
15. Spokane-Spokane Valley-Coeur d'Alene, WA-ID
15. Sacramento-Roseville, CA
17. Medford-Grants Pass, OR
17. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA
19. Eugene-Springfield, OR
20. Salinas, CA
21. Anchorage, AK
22. Bend-Prineville, OR
23. Portland-Vancouver-Salem, OR-WA
25. Bismarck, ND (tie)
25. Pocatello, ID (tie)