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Wildfire smoke contains many different pollutants with fine particulates (PM2.5) being the most concerning (see blog post "Wildfire Smoke in Northern Nevada). The Washoe County Air Quality Managament Division's PM2.5 monitoring network has been monitoring since 1999. In addition to the two permanent PM2.5 monitors at our Reno3 and Sparks monitoring sites, we recently deployed portable beta attenuation monitor (E-BAM) for PM2.5 monitoring at Pleasant Valley Elementary to expand our network during wildfire season (see map). An E-BAM's purpose is to get accurate PM2.5 data so that the public can make health based decisions as soon as possible. Decisions like keeping windows closed at night, having recess or practice indoors, and cancelling events like a triathlon are just some of the decisions that can and have been made because of this type of air monitor.
How do BAMs work?
What can I do to protect myself?
#BeSmokeSmart ! We are asking the public to Keep it Clean. Be Smoke Smart. Pay attention to your local air quality by going to AirNow.gov. The new portable PM2.5 monitor will also be sending data to AirNow in addition to our other monitoring sites. Due to the limitations of monitoring every hour, transferring the data, and having AirNow update at 30 minutes past the hour, data on AirNow can be delayed up to 90 minutes. Here are some other things you can do to Be Smoke Smart:
- Stay indoors with the windows closed; if too warm go to evacuation center or away from the area
- run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean
- reduce activity and stay hydrated
- keep indoor air as clean as possible
- eliminate tobacco smoke
- don't use candles
- don't vacuum (yes, I am giving you an excuse not to clean.)
- follow the advice of your doctor
- do not rely on dust masks
- evacuate or temporarily relocate if needed
Thanks to the NWS in Reno for being a partner in getting wildfire smoke information out to the public. For more information on local air quality for Washoe County, go to OurCleanAir.com