Air quality an issue after region’s storms

By From page A1 | December 04, 2012

Dont Light Tonight logoW

As the weekend’s storm clouds move out of sight, another, less visible, threat continues to hang over the region.

Monday’s early morning fog and more fog predicted for Tuesday trapped particulate matter pollution in the air, prompting the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District to issue a second straight “Don’t Light Tonight” advisory on Tuesday.

Wood-burning raises the amount of particulate matter in the air, which has been linked to adverse health effects. When the local agency announces no-burn days, it discourages the use of fireplaces or wood stoves.

This year, the city of Davis separately implemented a mandatory restriction on wood-burning on these days. There have been no complaints of non-compliance from the community so far, according to Jacques DeBra of the city of Davis.

The only other no-burn day of this season, which runs through February, was on Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. It is not uncommon for the particulate pollution to be less severe at the beginning of the season, air district spokesman Tom Hall said.

“Last year, there were four (no-burn days) in the entire month of November, but in 201o, there were no advisories in the month of November,” he said. “We don’t typically see larger numbers of advisories until December.”

The air district reported the Air Quality Index at a “moderate” level of 77 on Monday, which was predicted to rise to 82 on Tuesday. Forecasts outline a continued trend of moderately high particulate matter pollution for Wednesday through Saturday.

Values within the range of 50 and 100 pose a health concern for a small number of people, primarily those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution, according to the Spare the Air website.

These numbers were much different Sunday, when air quality averaged a healthy reading of 37. The three heavy storms that tore through Northern California last week and over weekend helped keep the particulate pollution levels being down.

“Rain keeps the air cleaner,” Hall said. “In addition, winds — which we saw plenty of this weekend — help disperse particulate pollution, resulting in lower local concentrations where wood smoke is actually being created.”

The calmer conditions Monday and Tuesday affected the air quality and led to the no-burn advisories, he added.

Residents who wish to daily receive updates on pollution levels and “Don’t Light Tonight” advisories may visit ysaqmd.org and sign up for email updates. In addition, Davis residents can check the current burn status at www.cityofdavis.org.

“Don’t Light Tonight” advisories also will be published in The Davis Enterprise.

“It’s still pretty early in the season,” Hall said. “We hope that folks continue to pay attention to the burn status on a district level, especially as it ramps up in December.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052.

Brett Johnson

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