Burn Ban: Its Effect on Washoe County

Firing up the wood or pellet stove was illegal Monday. Washoe County’s Health Department issued a Stage One Air Pollution Alert from Washoe Valley to Cold Springs, which has since been reversed.

Health officials on a chimney smoke patrol because of high pollution.

RENO, NV - Pamela Anderson watches her son Aiden play in the park at Sparks Marina, she's expecting her baby any day now.

On Stage One Air Pollution Alert days like Monday, she and her son are placed into the sensitive group--meaning they are advised to stay indoors.

She is not changing her plans.

“I had no idea. Yea, so I'm going to stay here til we leave,” says Anderson.

At 4th and Prater Way in Sparks, one of the health department's air monitoring stations takes in samples and lets the health department know when particulates from wood burning, solid fuels, or car emissions are above healthy standards.

A new piece of more sensitive equipment was installed here in July, and it is that device that's detecting poor air quality more efficiently than ever before.

“We noticed that in November of this year, we had some data from both sites, we saw higher concentrations in Sparks. We also had lighter winds in Sparks. So when you have lighter winds it does not get dispersed, says Mark Green.

Green, a researcher with the Desert Research Institute wants to find out what's going on with the inversion layer here in the Truckee Meadows, what's being trapped in it and what can be done if anything to alleviate the problem.

He's sent a proposal to the health department to do just that.

“What the cause if of these higher concentrations in Sparks. So they might be able to try other methods to make things better. Like retro-fitting wood burning stoves or replacing stoves. They have some program where they can do that,” says Green.

Green has done similar research at the other monitoring station on Mill Street in Reno in 2010.

At that time he says the most serious inversion layers occurred during a snow event when that snow stayed on the ground for days and days at a time.

We haven’t had an event like that yet this season he says.

Yet, we are still experiencing Stage One Air Pollution Alerts in the Truckee Meadows.

He wonders what those levels will be like when the snow does start to fall and stays on the ground.


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