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Portola sees another month of poor air quality

By Lauren Westmoreland

[email protected]

The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (NSAQMD) has published air quality results for the month of February 2021, with Julie Ruiz of the Portola NSAQMD office noting that it was “another month of poor air quality in Portola.”

There was an enforcement of mandatory indoor no-burn days, which began Friday, Jan. 1. There were 12 days total of wood burning curtailment over the month of January and 11 in February.

Based off the data collected, there were nine days of exceeding the daily National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) of 35 micrograms per cubic meter for particulate matter (PM2.5) during the month of February in Portola.

This is the highest number of exceedance days for February since 2016. The average PM2.5 per day for the month was only slightly higher than the average a year ago.

The Chester site also showed a slightly higher average, while Quincy was lower than last year. With less than one inch of precipitation in Portola, and some strong ridges of high pressure, PM2.5 was not able to lift and disperse.

Precipitation was below normal in February for the entire region. Portola received only 0.9 inches of precipitation (even less was recorded in February 2020).

“We recognize that wood stoves contributed more PM2.5 than expected based on a low number of change-outs to the new EPA certified heating devices over the past year, poor operation of stoves and poor-quality fuel, such as wet and unseasoned wood,” Ruiz noted.

During the pandemic, NSAQMD suspects higher usage of heating devices as adults and children spend more time in the home. In the City of Portola, this translates into more wood being burned.

The months of March through June are expected to be warmer and drier than normal. Significant fire potential is normal through June. Green grass is currently coming in at low elevations (per Northern California GACC, 3-1-21).

 For real-time Portola air quality, visit www.myairdistrict.com. For smoke complaints and air quality concerns, call 832-0102.

Greater Portola Wood Stove Change-Out Program

For those that would like more information about the Greater Portola Wood Stove Change-Out Program offered through the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, contact Julie Ruiz at 832-0102.

As of February 28, 2021, 535 applications have been received, 509 pre-approval letters have been sent out, and 425 EPA-certified wood stove installations are complete.

Shown is a comparison of the three monitoring sites in Plumas County, located in Quincy, Chester, and Portola. Portola typically has the highest PM2.5 during the winter months. Graphs submitted by NSAQMD

 

 

 

Levels of PM2.5 in Portola compared to this month last year. Note that there were nine days over the daily NAAQS standard this year compared to five days over the standard in 2020.

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