Reno/Sparks, Nev. Sept. 3, 2021 – The Washoe County Health District has upgraded the Stage 1 Air Quality Emergency Episode issued on Friday, Aug. 27, to a Stage 2 Emergency Episode. The air quality index (AQI) for the Reno-Sparks area is expected to be “Unhealthy” through the weekend.

The Stage 1 Emergency Episode was upgraded to a Stage 2 because the 24-hour PM2.5 AQI is expected to be above 150 on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Those in sensitive groups including children, older adults, and those with heart/lung disease should avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Everyone else should reduce strenuous outdoor activities.  The Dixie and Caldor Fires remain active and are continuing to contribute to the poor air quality in the region.

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Periods of heavy smoke are possible during the late evenings and morning hours for Washoe County. AQMD has issued these recommendations to reduce exposure to smoke:

  • Check the AQI on both AirNow and AirNow’s Fire and Smoke Map for the AQI nearest you.
  • Stay indoors with the windows and doors closed.
  • Keep your indoor air clean. Consider having a clean room in your home.
  • Consult your physician for health questions, especially those with heart and lung issues.

During wildfires, the role of the AQMD is to provide the most current and accurate information and data possible so that the residents and businesses of Washoe County can make the best decisions possible regarding their health.

AQMD can issue a Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, and Stage 4 Emergency Episode with the Stage 4 being the most severe. More information on the stages can be found here. The Emergency Episode rule was recently revised and adopted by the District Board of Health on July 22, 2021. An air pollution Emergency Episode for Washoe County is not a state of emergency as issued by the Governor or President. The main purposes of an Emergency Episode are to notify the public of the air pollution levels, give recommendations to reduce exposure, and reduce or stop emissions from a local source if it is determined to be significantly contributing to the Emergency Episode.

Visit for additional information on the Air Quality Management Division.

The Washoe County Health District is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.