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The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (District) and the Public Health Departments of Nevada, Plumas and Sierra Counties are extending a joint Air Quality Health Advisory due to the prolonged and widespread smoke from numerous wildfires, predominantly the Dixie Fire. Poor air quality (possibly reaching hazardous levels) is expected to persist as long as these wildfires are active.  Smoke density and location will vary greatly, depending on fire behavior and weather conditions, with smoke settling in low areas at night.

Over the past couple days, smoke from the Dixie Fire has spread beyond Plumas County into Sierra County and Nevada County, as well as other Northern California and Nevada regions.  Air quality has reached hazardous levels over the past 48 hours in Chester, Quincy, Portola and Truckee.  Smoke will continue to have the greatest impact in areas to the northeast and east of the fire, but health impacts will continue across all three counties in the District. 

Exposure to elevated PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in smoke) concentrations can result in eye and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, congestion, coughing, impaired lung function and chest pain, especially among sensitive individuals such as the elderly, children, people with asthma, people with heart or lung conditions, pregnant women and anyone who is exercising or working hard outdoors.  People who are affected by, or susceptible to, COVID-19 may be at increased risk from wildfire smoke due to cardiovascular symptoms or a compromised or suppressed immune system.

If you smell or see smoke around you, the following actions are recommended:

  • Minimize outdoor activities even if you are healthy;
  • Stay indoors with doors and windows closed as much as possible; run the air conditioner on the “recirculate” setting if that is an option;
  • People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan;
  • People with heart disease, respiratory conditions or chronic health issues should stay indoors;
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe fatigue;
  • Keep airways moist and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water;
  • Avoid breathing additional smoke, such as from cigarettes or barbecues.

Near real-time air quality conditions for Quincy, Portola, Chester, Truckee and Grass Valley may be found at www.myairdistrict.com (click on your location of interest in the “Local Air Quality” portion).  As you view the most recent data, take into consideration that conditions can change rapidly due to wind shifts; it is wise to monitor the smoke throughout the day and make plans accordingly.  The smoke may be visible in satellite imagery, available via www.weather.gov/sto (near the bottom of the page).

Additional information about air quality and protecting yourself from wildfire smoke can be found on the following websites:
https://fire.airnow.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/air/wildfire-smoke/