A fully solar-powered air monitoring station has been installed on the Oregon Institute of Technology’s (Oregon Tech) Klamath Falls campus, complementing the work currently being done by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to monitor air quality in the Klamath Basin.
The Oregon Tech Solar-Powered Air Quality Monitoring Station (SPAQMS) will monitor PM2.5 in the Basin, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria pollutant that Klamath Falls is currently out of attainment for in regards to standards set by the EPA. DEQ has been monitoring PM2.5 in the Klamath Basin for many years. By having a second location in the Basin, agencies and Oregon Tech will be able to better characterize the pollution problem in the Basin and move toward continued improvement of Klamath Falls air quality.
Dangers of high PM2.5 levels can include effects on the cardiovascular system, especially in the elderly, children and people with preexisting conditions such as asthma. Historically, the Klamath Basin experiences high levels during the summer months, typically caused by wildfires along the West Coast, but the inversion nature of the Klamath Basin can also cause higher levels of PM2.5 in the winter due to the use of woodstoves as a heating source in many homes. The higher levels in the winter are what affect the attainment status of Klamath Falls.