Air quality in Seattle is currently worse than Beijing

SEATTLE — As wildfires continue to burn throughout the west coast, Seattle residents woke again Friday morning to thick haze and air quality that is currently worse than Beijing’s, a city notorious for poor air conditions.

As of Friday at 11 a.m. PDT, Seattle’s air-quality index was at 197 (unhealthy) while Beijing was at 13 (good), according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Beijing U.S. Embassy Real-time Air Quality Index, respectively.

>> Beaches, parks and boat launches in Seattle closed through Sunday due to poor air quality

While known for poor air conditions, it’s worth nothing that Beijing has seen improvements since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is designating the air quality in the region as “unhealthy,” recommending that people, especially vulnerable groups such as young children and the elderly, reduce outdoor activities and stay indoors until quality improves.

Air quality is measured through the Air Quality Index, which ranges from 0 to 500 — the higher the number, the lower the quality. Any rating below 50 is considered good, while ratings above 100 are considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups” and ratings above 150 are considered “unhealthy.”

Fortunately for Pacific Northwest residents, the department of ecology provides an active Washington’s Air Monitoring Network map with up-to-date information collected from more than 80 monitoring stations statewide.