WASHINGTON D.C. – The Colville Confederated Tribes’ Environmental Trust Air Quality Program has been selected to receive the Clean Air Excellence Award in the Community Action category from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation in a ceremony in Washington D.C., Nov. 6.
In a letter announcing the award, the EPA highlighted Air Quality’s Okanogan River Airshed Partnership, which is a collaborative effort in which the Colville Tribes has partnered with state and federal programs, Okanogan county, the city of Omak, community health representatives and community members to fulfill a mission to seek “non-regulatory projects, programs and partnerships that increase our understanding of PM2.5 air pollution in the [Okanogan River] airshed and help to reduce it.”
Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, is defined by the EPA as fine, inhalable particles with diameters there are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller and pose harmful effects.
“Particulate matter contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems,” reads an EPA website on particulate matter. “Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream.”
In the Okanogan River Airshed fine particulates are emitted from residential wood stoves, residential wood debris, agricultural fire, prescribed wildland fire, industrial source and wildlife.
The Clean Air Excellence Awards Program “recognizes and honors outstanding and innovative efforts to achieve cleaner air. The program was recommended to the EPA by the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, which advises the EPA on policy issues related to the Clean Air Act,” according to the letter.