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Breathing unhealthy air | Smoke contains contaminants | COVID masking changes

The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Friday, Sept. 23.

Report: North State communities at risk of breathing unhealthy air

Orange skies choked with soot from wildfires have become more common in the Western U.S. In a new paper, a team based at Stanford University estimates that millions of people now live where this smoke has made breathing unhealthy, including parts of far Northern California.

— Molly Peterson (KQED), The California Newsroom

Wildfire smoke can contain acids, soot and metals

Wildfire smoke is especially harmful because it contains the smallest kinds of inhalable particulate matter. Because those particles are so fine — 50 times smaller than a single grain of salt — they can bring whatever contaminants they are made of directly into your body. That means acids, soot, soil, dust, mold spores and metals such as lead.

Jamie Jiang, NSPR

Lawsuit alleges Northern California utility targeted Asians

A little over a month after Hmong American residents filed a class action lawsuit against Siskiyou County and its sheriff for discrimination, a Northern California utilities company is being sued for allegedly helping Sacramento police target Asian customers. According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit alleges the Sacramento Municipal Utility District regularly gave the city’s police department information about the power use of its customers in order to target illicit marijuana grows “without requiring a warrant or any suspicion of wrongdoing.”

Jamie Jiang, NSPR

California updates COVID-19 masking recommendations

Effective today, the state is further easing its masking recommendations and leaving more to personal choice. The California Department of Public Health’s new recommendations are based on the COVID-19 status of a resident’s county.

Tara Atrian (KCRW), The California Report

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

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A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.
Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Jamie is NSPR’s wildfire reporter and Report For America corps member. She covers all things fire, but her main focus is wildfire recovery in the North State. Before NSPR, Jamie was at UCLA, where she dabbled in college radio and briefly worked as podcast editor at the Daily Bruin.
Adia White is a broadcast journalist and producer with nearly 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on WNYC, This American Life, Capital Public Radio and other local and national programs. She started at North State Public Radio as a freelance reporter in 2017 before leaving for a stint at Northern California Public Media in Santa Rosa.