Air Quality Health Advisory


Thursday, September 12 through Monday, September 16, 2019

The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District and the Plumas and Sierra County Public Health Agencies are issuing a joint Air Quality Health Advisory to notify the public of poor air quality conditions through at least September 16, 2019 resulting from the Walker Fire.  At various times today (9/12) the air quality in Quincy and Taylorsville has reached particulate levels that are Unhealthy for Everyone (the red zone on the AQI chart).   The greatest smoke impacts will be in the Indian Valley, but there will be impacts to communities further away such as Quincy and Chester/Lake Almanor Basin.  As wind direction changes, potential smoke impacts to Portola and the Sierra Valley (as well as Lassen County and Washoe County) may occur.  The air quality throughout these counties is dependent on atmospheric conditions and may change.

Exposure to elevated PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in smoke) concentrations can result in eye and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, congestion, coughing, impaired lung function and chest pain, especially among sensitive individuals such as the elderly, children, people with asthma, people with heart or lung conditions, pregnant women and anyone who is exercising or working hard outdoors.

If you smell or see smoke around you, the following actions are recommended:

  • Minimize outdoor activities even if you are healthy;
  • Stay indoors with doors and windows closed as much as possible; run the air conditioner on the “recirculate” setting if that is an option;
  • People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan;
  • People with heart disease, respiratory or chronic health issues should stay indoors;
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe fatigue;
  • Keep airways moist and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water;
  • Avoid breathing additional smoke, such as from cigarettes or barbecues.

Near real-time air quality conditions for Quincy, Portola and Chester may be found at (click on your location of interest in the “Local Air Quality” portion).  As you view the most recent data, take into consideration that conditions can change rapidly due to wind shifts; it is wise to monitor the smoke throughout the day and make plans accordingly.  The smoke may be visible in satellite imagery, available via (near the bottom of the page).

A temporary air monitor has been set up in Taylorsville and may be accessed on this link:

Additional information about air quality can be found on the following website:

To sign up for the Air Quality Health Advisory email list, please visit





The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (District) is issuing an air quality advisory to notify the public of potentially poor air quality conditions associated with wood burning.  The District recommends avoiding the use of any wood burning device (including wood stoves, fireplaces, fire pits and cook stoves) to prevent potential health impacts and an exceedance of federal/state air pollution standards.  Use a non-wood burning form of heat such as electricity, propane or kerosene, if possible.

Residential wood smoke is a major source of wintertime air pollution.  During at least the next 24 hours, weather forecasts indicate stagnant conditions which mean that warm air aloft will keep colder air at ground level and any smoke produced to heat homes will remain in the breathing zone.

With your help, Portola can CLEAR THE AIR and improve community health.  Here’s how:

  • Light ONLY in EPA certified devices.
  • Use only dry, well-seasoned wood (<20% moisture content).
  • Go outside and look at the chimney to make sure it is burning hot enough so that smoke is not being emitted. A proper fire should produce only heat waves once draft is created.
  • NEVER burn garbage or chemically treated wood.
  • Do not let creosote build up in your chimney (avoid wet wood; clean the chimney annually).

Are you eligible for funding to replace your current uncertified wood stove (or qualified fireplace) with a new EPA certified stove?  Contact the District at 530-832-0102 to find out!

Exposure to elevated PM2.5 concentrations can result in eye and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, congestion, coughing, impaired lung function, chest pain and premature death, especially among sensitive individuals such as the elderly, children, people with asthma and people with heart or lung conditions.

Check Wintertime Air Quality Advisories at

  • 530-832-4067

Information on current air quality can be found at: