Washington State Magazine

Fall 2004

Fall 2004

In This Issue...


A Little Bronze—Strategically Placed :: Although it might be better known for wine and wheat, Walla Walla is also home to one of the most prominent fine-art foundries. For a short time this fall, 32 sculptures cast at the Walla Walla Foundry will reside at 13 locations across the Pullman campus.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: A little bronze—Strategically placed Photos by George Bedirian. }

Tracking Trucks :: One heavily-loaded eighteen-wheeler can cause the same highway damage as 7,000 cars. Ken Casavant and other transportation economists are trying to make sense of the effects of trucks on the state's highways.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Truck Drivin' Man Photos by Rajah Bose of the romance of trucking. }

No Hollow Promise :: Half of all new public-school teachers quit within five years, and the best and brightest are often the first to go. Worse, the attrition rate at high-needs schools is even greater. The CO-TEACH program at WSU decided to change this situation.

An Exquisite Scar :: The beauty of the channeled scablands comes from unimaginable catastrophe.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Images of Washington's Channeled Scabland Photos by Robert Hubner. }

Carlton Lewis—Still Building Bridges :: The early 1970s were tumultuous years on the WSU campus. As student body president, Carlton Lewis helped keep things from boiling over. Now he presides over Devcorp Consulting Corporation, a project management company with teeth.



:: SEASONS/SPORTS:Big little man Bill Tomaras


Cover: Edison Elementary teacher Jacqui Fisher '00 with students Dillon Skedd, Alejandrina Carreño, Jorge Herrera, Kylee Martinez. Photograph by Laurence Chen.

Burning field

Robert Hubner

Field-burning study proves inconclusive

by | © Washington State University

Inland Northwest farmers may be breathing a little easier after seeing the results of a Washington State University and University of Washington study that showed no statistical increase in asthmatics' health problems during several field burning events in 2002. Researchers from WSU's Laboratory for Atmospheric Research, the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and the Northwest Center for Particulate Air Pollution and Health presented their findings at two public meetings in June in Pullman and Spokane.

The study examined exposure levels in 33 asthmatic adults to atmospheric pollutants from field burning in the Palouse region. With the help of funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology, researchers placed particle monitors in backpacks worn by asthmatic volunteers to measure their individual exposure levels to particulate matter in the air for eight weeks during the fall 2002 field-burning season. They also placed particle monitors in volunteers' homes. At the same time, they carefully monitored the symptoms and lung function of the volunteers.

The researchers noted that the results of the study should be viewed with caution. While it found no significant health effect from the field burning, neither did the study answer the question of why that might be. Perhaps recent burning has been more carefully controlled than in past years. Peak exposures were lower in 2002 than in the two previous years, the researchers said. For the past two burn seasons (2002, 2003), Idaho and Washington, as well as the Nez Perce and Coeur D'Alene Indian tribes, have used the Clear Sky Smoke Forecast System developed at WSU. Burn coordinators can go online and submit information on acreage that they would like to burn. The forecast system then integrates the information with weather forecasts to provide a prediction of where smoke from the burn will travel.

Another reason their study failed to detect health effects from field burning, the researchers noted, might be that the young adults with asthma who participated in the study were less susceptible to health problems than other groups, such as young children or the elderly. Or the health effects from burning wheat stubble might be different than those from bluegrass.

In any case, data from the agricultural burning study can be used by the Department of Ecology to set exposure standards for particulate matter to protect public health.

Categories: Agriculture, Health sciences | Tags: Palouse, Smoke

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