Western Nevada County gets ‘F’ for ozone | SierraSun.com

Western Nevada County gets ‘F’ for ozone

NEVADA COUNTY ” Friday marks the beginning of ozone season ” and once again, Nevada County received a “F” from the American Lung Association as part of its 2009 State of the Air report.

Based on figures reported to the EPA, the ALA’s report found 60 percent of Americans were breathing unhealthy air between 2005 and 2007.

A failing grade is nothing new for Nevada County, where regional winds blow Central Valley smog into foothills each afternoon. San Francisco received an “A” for its ozone levels.

“In this instance, we can blame our neighbors,” said Joe Fish, deputy air pollution control officer for the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District.

Some locals fear increased truck traffic spilling onto highways 20 and 49 from the Interstate 80 detour could worsen air quality this summer.

Air pollution doesn’t blow all the way up into eastern Nevada County and Truckee, where ozone levels aren’t nearly as bad yet, Fish said in a previous interview with the Sun.

In Truckee, while air pollution from out of the area ” coming from as far away as China ” has been detected, most of the problem is local and from I-80, he said.

Last year, an unprecedented wildfire season contributed to high ozone days. The fires were considered exceptional events, Fish said.

A total of 34 days were counted last summer when ozone levels exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“It was our worst summer on record,” Fish said.

Of those days, 16 were recorded when the foothills were blanketed with heavy smoke from regional wildfires.

“I really have no way of knowing which of the days would have exceeded without the smoke,” Fish said.

The remaining 18 high ozone days are considered average for a season. Most bad values for ozone occur at night, when people are indoors, helping to mitigate the problem, Fish said.

Pregnant women, children, asthmatics, athletes and those with lung disease suffer most from high ozone levels.

In recent years, the summer air quality has driven a few to move away or vacation on the coast during bad air events. Others have become advocates involved with Save the Air in Nevada County (STA in NC), a group that organized a highly attended ozone summit last year in Grass Valley.

Also beginning today, burn permits are required.

To view the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report visit http://www.StateoftheAir.org.

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