Summer Of Smoke And Haze: Shasta County, Make Sure You’re Checking Air Quality

Sep 10, 2018

Shasta County residents can check air quality on the county’s online map. However, it’s important to note that the air monitoring station in Anderson is the only one that monitors for smoke, this is why you may see good air quality being indicated for Redding and Shasta Lake even when there may be smoke present.
Credit Shasta County Department of Resource Management

For the most part, air quality has been downright lousy in Shasta County all summer. Seven weeks ago, the Carr Fire erupted. And since then, a series of major conflagrations have been busy converting the North State’s forests into smoke and ash. 

Venessa Vidovich, a public health nurse with the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency said typical symptoms of smoke inhalation include nausea, burning throat, or a persistent dry cough. She said danger to healthy people isn’t extreme.  

“The people who really need to be concerned are folks who have underlying health conditions, like asthma or cardiovascular disease, young children, pregnant women.  Smoky conditions for folks like that can really cause a lot of problems,” she said. 

But, long term exposure isn’t good. John Waldrop, is manager of the Shasta County Air Quality Management District. 

“The severity and the duration of the concentration are gonna, you know, be the ultimate factors there,” he said.  

The Air Quality Index is what’s used to express how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.
Credit Shasta County Department of Resource Management

Air quality is monitored by fairly sophisticated equipment. And, Shasta County has an online map showing current air quality on their air district’s web page. But, accuracy is questionable, as there’s only one physical monitoring device that measures smoke in a county with highly variable terrain and dozens of microclimates. 

If you’re a bit less computer savvy or not up on jargon, Vidovich said, there are other tools that can be used. 

“I personally think that looking outside with your eyes and sniffing with your nose is the best you’re going to get,” Vidovich said. “Because, much like rainfall, the smoke conditions are going to vary based on where you are in the community, and they also vary based on the time of day.”