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Is That Mask Really Protecting You From The Smoke?

Aug 31, 2017

The persistent haze of smoke from the wildfires burning around the Northwest has led many people to wear face masks to protect their lungs. But health officials say many of those masks aren’t doing what the wearers think they are.

As the days of thick, smoky air drag on, you’re seeing more people wearing those little paper masks you can get at the hardware store. Dr. Jim Shames has seen them, too. But, he says, while those masks may filter out some of the ash that’s floating around people need more protection than that.

Candles surround a photograph of Charleena Lyles after a vigil was held at Solid Ground Brettler Family Place on Tuesday, June 19, 2017, in Seattle, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seven bullets riddled Charleena Lyles’ body earlier this summer when she was shot by Seattle police.

Those bullets struck her chest and arm and dug into into her hip, back and side.

And her uterus, blowing through a four-month old fetus.

It would have been a boy.

There's a health trend that researchers want the LGBT community to be aware of: Lesbian and gay adults over 50 are found to be in poorer health than heterosexuals, according to a University of Washington School of Social Work study.

KUOW PHOTO/KARA MCDERMOTT

“I’m losing sleep,” said Graciela Nuñez Pargas. “A lot of us are not sleeping.”

Nuñez is one of roughly 800,000 so-called “Dreamers” on edge around the country this week.

A majority of large ship operators are cooperating with a request to temporarily slow down in the shared border waters between Victoria and San Juan Island. The Port of Vancouver in British Columbia is running an experiment there to reduce underwater noise that bothers whales.

A Public Works Seattle rehearsal
Courtesy Seattle Repertory Theatre/Jim Bennett

Racial and economic equity are priorities for government leaders and community activists in the Pacific Northwest.

The same holds true for regional arts organizations.

The number of ranchers in the U.S. is on the decline. There’s no recruiting for the gig and some of the generational ties to ranch land in the west have been severed, so it’s not clear who will take on the business in the future. One answer may be women.

BiliScreen is a new smartphone app that can screen for pancreatic cancer by having users snap a selfie.
Courtesy of the University of Washington/Dennis Wise

University of Washington researchers have created a smartphone app that could help users screen themselves for a range of diseases, including pancreatic cancer, by simply taking a selfie.

Screenshot of interaction between motorcyclist, Alex Randall, and King County Sheriff Detective Richard Rowe, August 16, 2017.
Screenshot from YouTube video by Alex Randall

Update 8/31/2017: The King County Sheriff's deputy placed on administrative leave after drawing his gun on a motorcyclist earlier this month has been identified as 53-year-old Richard Rowe. He's been with the sheriff's office for nearly 19 years.

The sheriff's office is investigating the incident.


Clallam County, Washington, has put a temporary hold on an aquaculture company's application to relocate and expand a salmon farm near Port Angeles. This comes as the company is cleaning up after a mass escape of non-native Atlantic salmon from a different net pen it owns to the east at Cypress Island.

Opponents of salmon farming are seizing the moment.

Nobu Koch / Sealaska Heritage Institute

When Bruce Jacobsen moved to Seattle in 1986, he fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. He wanted to express his appreciation with a piece of Native art, and found one at a gallery Pioneer Square: an antique Chilkat robe.

"I just thought it was so beautiful, and it was like nothing I had seen before," Jacobsen said.


After 50 years, Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife will no longer operate the Wells Hatchery on the Columbia River near Pateros.

The Douglas County PUD, which owns the hatchery and a satellite facility in Winthrop, decided Monday to exercise a 90-day termination clause in its contract following an investigation into a “highly sexualized workplace” culture at the facility.

Air quality in the Portland metro area was rated by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality as unhealthy Tuesday. Areas near Grants Pass and Medford also had substantial haze from nearby wildfires.

Smoke from large fires burning in southwestern Oregon and northern California is blowing north and blanketing the Willamette Valley. This includes smoke from megafires such as the Chetco Bar Fire — burning over 100,000 acres near Brookings, Oregon — and the Miller Complex of fires.  

A detainee sits in the intake area at the Tacoma Detention Center in 2017.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Unlike criminal cases, immigrants don’t have access to free legal representation.

Seattle wants to change that by giving money to six community groups that help vulnerable immigrants. 


Tour leader and architect Donald King points out Central District buildings that were built with - and without - community involvement.
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

Seattle's Central District was once the largest black enclave in the Pacific Northwest. But no longer.

Architect and Central District resident Donald King says the trend is only going to continue. "Our old sense of a black community will be gone in the next 20 years."

College Money
Flickr Photo/SalFalko (CC BY-NC-ND)

Last year Bernie Sanders made free college tuition the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Now, a candidate for Seattle mayor wants to make that idea hers.  

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan is calling for "free college tuition for every graduate of Seattle public high schools.”


It's been a busy August for the Oregon National Guard.

More than 600 guard members have been called up to fight wildfires burning out of control in the state. They've dropped more than 750,000 gallons of water on the fires by helicopter.

Even as the firefighting continues, two small teams with the Oregon Air National Guard's 125th Special Tactics Squadron are being sent on a very different mission: assisting the relief effort in Texas.

The Chetco Bar Fire in southwest Oregon has been burning since July. It's now scorched about 118-,000 acres and it’s still completely uncontained. Last week it was designated the nation’s top priority wildfire.

The megafire is still burning just five miles outside the coastal city of Brookings. OPB/EarthFix reporter Jes Burns is on the scene asking questions and getting answers.

What’s The Status This Afternoon Of Both The Fire And The Evacuations It’s Caused?

The city of Seattle is allowing Limebike, Spin and Ofo bike-share companies to operate under a six month pilot program.
Courtesy of LimeBike and Spin

First orange and green bikes, and now yellow bikes are for rent in Seattle. This month marked the U.S. debut for China-based bike share Ofo.


A project to build a new runway at Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport will stay on track if the Washington State University Board of Regents approves a deal Wednesday.

Hot, dry weather Sunday on the southern Oregon coast made it difficult for fire crews to stop the spread of the Chetco Bar Fire. Fire crews were refocused to keep it from creeping closer to coastal communities.

Residents of the coastal town of Brookings have been dealing with smoke and evacuation warnings for weeks now. Hundreds of them gathered Sunday evening at Brookings-Harbor High School to learn the latest on the fire burning just a few miles from town.

Road congestion has more than doubled in the Puget Sound region in the last five years. Sound Transit has been trying to build a light rail system to give commuters an option to get off the roads. Now, federal funding for the Lynnwood line is in danger.
Sound Transit

Voters approved a light rail line to Lynnwood from Northgate in 2008. Now there’s word the cost of that line is half a billion dollars over estimate.

Flickr Photo/USDAgov (CC-BY-NC-ND)

With the new school year just around the corner, one Seattle school lunch advocate has plenty to celebrate. 

James Turner, Metro's Transit Operator of the Year, has been driving buses for 35 years.
Courtesy of King County Metro

When Seattle passengers love their bus driver, they can call a feedback line to sing their praises.

The Oregon State Fair has been an end-of-summer tradition in Salem since 1862. This year's version kicked off Friday with the usual array of carnival rides, baby animals and junk food.

The Univeristy of Washington Medical Center in South Lake Union.
Angela Nhi Nguyen/KUOW Photo

Three patients at the University of Washington Medical Center have been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease this week. One of them died Friday and now officials are investigating the hospital.

Q&A: So Why Are Atlantic Salmon In The Northwest?

Aug 25, 2017

Last weekend, a net pen broke apart near Washington’s Cypress Island. The pen held 305,000 Atlantic salmon, non-native fish.

The company that owns the pen, Cooke Aquaculture, says it is unsure exactly how many Atlantic salmon escaped. It estimates somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 fish. Cooke and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are inventorying fish are still inside the pens.

A wild Pacific salmon, left, next to an escaped farm-raised Atlantic salmon, right, on Aug. 22 at Home Port Seafoods in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The farmed Atlantic salmon that spilled into Puget Sound would have gone to market soon.

More than 300,000 were in a privately owned net off of Cypress Island when the net broke Aug. 19.

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is hearing from opponents and supporters of a proposed change to the state's initiative process that could help campaigns jump-start the signature gathering process.

A sketch of The Emerald, a 40-foot condominium tower planned at 2nd and Stewart near Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. Chinese investors helped make the project possible.
Hewitt Seattle

Seattleites love to blame outsiders for skyrocketing housing prices.

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