Break’s over, bad air comes back |

Break’s over, bad air comes back

The air over western Nevada County, polluted by smoke from two growing fires in Placer County, became unhealthy for everyone again Tuesday after a brief respite.

Local air quality has been hazardous most days since lightning strikes sparked numerous wildfires locally and across the state the weekend of June 21.

On Monday, though, ozone and particulates found in smoke dropped to levels considered healthy.

“Yesterday was our breath of fresh air. Today, we’re getting higher numbers again,” said Joe Fish, of the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, on Tuesday.

For several hours on Tuesday, air quality reached levels considered unhealthy for sensitive individuals before spiking to unhealthy levels for everyone around 4 p.m.

Sensitive people include the elderly, children, asthmatics, adults with pre-existing heart and lung disease, pregnant women and athletes.

Burning fires also generate precursors to ozone, spiking readings of those unhealthy conditions as well, Fish said.

“We packed an entire summer of pollution in one week,” Fish said. “People who like to exercise, this has been a difficult seven days. People are desperate to get out.”

While better Tuesday than the past seven days, smoke and ozone levels remain elevated and will continue so for the next few days, according to an advisory issued by the air district Monday.

Sensitive people should avoid or limit outdoor activity, and those who want to exercise outside should use caution, the advisory said.

“Scientific studies have linked fine particulate matter (smoke) with significant health problems, including premature death, respiratory-related hospital admissions, aggravated asthma, acute respiratory symptoms (including severe chest pain, gasping and aggravated coughing), chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, and work and school absences,” according to the air district.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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