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Weather keeps air healthy

Air quality almost triggered a health advisory Wednesday, but a milder weather forecast has stemmed that threat through next week.

On Thursday, Joe Fish at the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District said cooler temperatures brought air quality index numbers back to the moderate range, between 51 and 100. That means only people with unusual sensitivities to smog should consider reducing lengthy exertion.

Fish said the Grass Valley area hit 100 on the air index Wednesday, just one point less than the 101 to 150 level, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. That group includes anyone who has had heart or lung disease, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, athletes and asthmatics.



The sensitive groups level is often attained in Nevada County in summer, when temperatures start climbing toward 100 and ozone levels rise. But Fish and Qwikcast.com forecaster Steve Martinez do not expect a spike like Wednesday’s to occur again soon because of cooling.

“There’s a weak upper level disturbance that will drop out of northern Canada into the Pacific Northwest and Northern California,” Martinez said. “It will produce westerly onshore flow which will keep our temperatures in the lower to middle 80s through Father’s Day.”




Temperatures will remain in the 80s through next week, “and the skies will remain sunny with no precipitation,” Martinez said. “The bike race (Nevada City Classic) should not be affected.”

Higher bad air levels include the “unhealthy” range at 151 to 200, where all residents are told to limit outdoor activity. There have been no days that high this year in the Sacramento region, according to its air district. The worst is “very unhealthy,” which is 201 to 300, when only the healthy should go outdoors and not for long. Such a level is rarely seen in Nevada County.

The air quality in western Nevada County is also affected largely by pollution from the Bay Area and Sacramento being moved into the foothills by prevailing winds. Fish said southern winds pushed that pollution to the south earlier this week, but a Delta breeze Wednesday abruptly headed it east into the Sierra.

Federal EPA officials have ordered Sacramento and Bay Area to have a plan to clean up air quality and meet new ozone standards by 2007. The EPA did not lump Nevada County with Sacramento attainment standards but indicated the county will have to create new, but less stringent standards for business and transportation.

For more information about air quality, visit the Sacramento-based http://www.sparetheair.com on the Web.


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