Active Alert – “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” Air Quality

August 17, 2021

As of this morning, smoke from regional wildfires have resulting in reduced air quality in our area.  Air monitoring data from the Department of Ecology indicates that particulate concentrations in Kennewick (the closest sensor) are at levels classified as “unhealthy for sensitive groups”.  Under these conditions, outdoor activities are discouraged for people with health conditions that may be impacted by wildfire smoke, such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.


People experiencing respiratory distress should contact a health care professional immediately. Older adults, pregnant women, children, and people with preexisting respiratory and heart conditions may be more likely to get sick if they breathe in wildfire smoke. If you experience any signs of respiratory distress or other health concerns, contact your health care provider.


There are many steps you can take for limiting exposure to unhealthy, smoky air:


  • Avoid being outdoors. Use public transportation rather than walking or biking.
  • Stay inside as much as possible. Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and using an air filter and air conditioning. Make sure your air conditioner’s fresh-air intake is closed and the filter is clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside.
  • Do not add to indoor pollution. Avoid using candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air. 
  • Follow your health care provider’s guidance. If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and your respiratory management plan.


Air quality will be monitored throughout the day, and additional notice will be provided if conditions worsen.  For more information go to WSU Environmental Health & Safety’s Wildfire Smoke web page at  The page includes links to the Washington Department of Ecology website with current air quality statewide, and precautions to take if the air quality deteriorates.

“Stay Home, Stay Healthy”

On Monday, March 23, 2020, Governor Inslee issued a “Stay Home Stay Healthy” order for the state of Washington, in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.  All Washington state residents are to stay home, unless performing a specified essential function.  To read the full order, visit the Governor’s website here.  The list of essential functions is linked in section 1(b) of the order.

For additional information on how this affects WSU Tri-Cities, visit our FAQ page here, and the system-wide COVID-19 information page at  More information regarding COVID-19, its local and state impacts, and protective measures can be obtained from:

  • Benton-Franklin Health District’s site HERE
  • Washington State Department of Health websiteHERE
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site HERE

We are not aware of any cases of COVID-19 directly impacting the WSU Tri-Cities campus.  We are in communication with Benton-Franklin Health District, and we will provide additional information if cases impacting campus are identified by the Health District.  Weekly updates via Zoom will also be provided on Tuesdays at 10AM.  Questions can be sent to

WSUTC custodial staff has increased cleaning frequencies for high contact locations on campus and is using COVID-19 sanitation guidelines from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Washington State Department of Health (DOH) for all routine cleaning including common touch surfaces.

WSU has taken proactive steps such as moving to online classes and increasing telework to enhance social distancing. By limiting the number of people on campus, we can reduce the potential for community spread of COVID-19. The WSU community should continue to be vigilant with social distancing, including:

  • Stay home when you are sick – this is very important for all illnesses, but especially for the duration of a respiratory illness
  • Students, if you have not returned to Pullman, please stay at home if you are able.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based sanitizer frequently
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes by coughing into your elbow or a tissue
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch and common surfaces
  • Enhance social distancing (more than 6 feet)
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • If you have coronavirus symptoms – fever, cough and shortness of breath – or if you have questions about your personal health, contact your health care provider.

Information included here and in the WSU Alert notification sent 3/24/20 are intended to keep our community as informed and safe as possible and to meet Clery Act compliance.

Register for emergency notifications by visiting, or by clicking here.

WSU Tri-Cities Important Announcements

Travel conditions will vary, particularly when coming from more distant areas, and locally slick areas may remain.  WSU encourages all to use your best judgement to decide if you can commute to class.  Please communicate with your supervisor or instructors if you feel it is unsafe for you to travel to class.  Instructors may also cancel class at their own discretion, and should communicate directly with students to notify them of cancellations to prevent unnecessary travel.

Please use caution while driving and walking – decrease speed and increase following and stopping distances on snow or ice, and use traction control devices when necessary.  Be prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear.



Check the National Weather Service-Richland Web site for up-to-the-minute weather information.

WSU Tri-Cities Alert Hotline (recorded):  509-372-7200

WSU Tri-Cities Emergency Reporting Line: 509-372-7234