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Air Pollution and Wildfire Impacts in the Sierra Nevada

Air Pollution and Wildfire Impacts in the Sierra Nevada

Picture of Pascale Fusshoeller

Wildfires are a yearly occurrence in the Sierra Nevada. Low fuel moisture, high temperatures and human impacts in the wildland-urban interface combine into the ideal conditions for fast-moving fires. At the same time, ozone pollution levels regularly approach unhealthy levels. The area itself does not generate the pollution, but prevailing winds push pollution out of the Bay area and Sacramento corridor against the foothills and peaks of the region. U.S. EPA and the American Lung Association have consistently ranked Nevada County among the dozen most ozone-polluted counties in the nation.

What happens when smoke blankets the area? Nevada County, with a large senior population, is impacted by smoke and ozone every summer. How do seniors, athletes and sensitive groups, such as asthma suffrer cope? Why is the air so bad in this rural area? I'll try to find the answers and provide some tips to avoid that the "smoke gets in your eyes."

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