Wildfire smoke leads to worst air quality on record in Nevada counties

Wildfire smoke leads to worst air quality on record in Nevada counties
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Wildfires continuing to spread across California have pushed smoke across to neighboring states, with several Nevada counties reporting their worst air quality index (AQI) levels on record this week. 

The Air Quality Management Division of Nevada’s Washoe County, home to Reno, on Tuesday reported an AQI number of 289, falling within the range government agencies consider to be “very unhealthy.” 

The county shared images on Twitter of the same area in Reno, with one taken last month showing a clear mountain view, and the other taken Tuesday showing it darkened and clouded with smoke. 

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Washoe County said that Monday’s 24-hour AQI average was 291, beating the 251 record established the previous day. 

AQI numbers ranging from 201 to 300 are considered “very unhealthy,” while 301 and higher are labeled as “hazardous.” 

“Very Unhealthy to Hazardous air quality due to #CaldorFire smoke is continuing to impact Washoe County,” the agency tweeted. “#BeSmokeSmart everyone should be staying indoors and doing only light activity when inside.”

The county agency said in a follow-up tweet that the levels of fine particle matter (PM) were also reaching high levels, writing, “the top 10 worst PM2.5 daily average AQIs have now all occurred within the last 11 months."

The Washoe County School District closed all public schools Monday in Reno, Sparks and Incline Village at Lake Tahoe due to concerns about air quality posing safety hazards for young people, according to The Associated Press

Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, also issued a smoke advisory Tuesday, which was eventually extended into Wednesday due to concerns about continued dust particles and other pollutants to which people with respiratory issues may be particularly sensitive. 

California’s Dixie and Caldor wildfires are some of the largest continuing to blaze across the state, causing smoke to cloud over Nevada and ash to rain on cars in some areas, according to the AP. 

About 13,500 firefighters are currently deployed across California to help contain a dozen large wildfires, the AP reported.