NNPH Highlights a Successful 2023 for Local Air Quality

Jan 10, 2024

Jan. 10, 2023. Reno/Sparks, Nev. – Northern Nevada Public Health (NNPH), formerly the Washoe County Health District, deemed 2023 a success in air quality due to few wildfires impacting our region, and efforts in permitting and compliance. Air quality was either good or moderate every day of the year.

NNPH’s Air Quality Management Division (AQMD) reported zero days of the Air Quality Index (AQI) going higher than 101, which is air that is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, or zero days where the air quality exceeded any primary or secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), according to preliminary data. That’s the first year of zero such days since 2019.

“The big winter of 2022-23 and the lack of wildfires near us really helped out a lot,” said Francisco Vega, Division Director for NNPH’s Air Quality Management Division. “That coupled with our division’s success in permitting and compliance has proven beneficial for everyone from an air quality perspective.”

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets and reviews air quality standards for six different pollutants: Ozone, Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, and Lead. AQMD continuously monitors all pollutants locally, except for lead, across seven monitoring stations in Washoe County.

A more in-depth review of 2023 air quality data will be released after the completion of the 2023 Washoe County Air Quality Trends Report in June 2024. Previous and future trends reports can be found here on AQMD’s website.

These positive trends have also allowed AQMD to discontinue its carbon monoxide (CO) monitor at the Sparks monitoring station. CO monitoring will continue at the downtown Reno station as required by the EPA.

Low carbon monoxide levels can be attributed to several enhancements in our community, including our Wood-Burning Device (WBD) Program. NNPH regulations require older, high-polluting devices to be removed or replaced with cleaner, more efficient models during real estate transactions. Annually, the WBD program accounts for the removal or replacement of about 200 wood-burning devices (based on 2019-2023 data).

The WBD Program combined with federal programs regulating fuel and car exhaust have resulted in zero CO AQI days at Sparks higher than Good since 2002. The last Moderate AQI day for Sparks CO was on December 7, 2002.

For more information regarding the Health District’s air quality efforts, visit the Air Quality Management Division’s website at OurCleanAir.com.

Please note the Washoe County Health District changed its name to Northern Nevada Public Health on Aug. 31, 2023. More information is here.

Northern Nevada Public Health (NNPH) 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 District Board of Health. NNPH 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.