The Cleaner Air News
A Special Update from the Cleaner Air Partnership
Save the Date: Upcoming Events
Valley Fire Disrupts Breath California's Annual Bike Trek
Butte Fire Impacts Region's Air Quality
Wildfire Smoke Increases Health Concerns
Butte Fire Destruction Tallied
Upcoming Events



The next Cleaner Air Partnership Quarterly Luncheon will be held on:


October 16, 2015, 11:30 - 1:00 pm


RSVP Today!



September 23, 2015


A one-day workshop on what can be done to take bicycling to the next level in the Capital Region. More information and registration here . 

*The perspectives contained in the news links above do not necessarily reflect the views of the Cleaner Air Partnership or its members.  They are intended for informational purposes.

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  Breathe Logo September 15, 2015
Valley Fire Disrupts Breathe California's Annual Bike Trek
First-hand experience shared by Breathe executive director, Kori Titus

We all know the fires blazing around our region have been impacting our local air quality, but the Valley Fire has also had a major impact on Breathe California.  Over the weekend, they were hosting their three-day bike Trek, the major fundraiser for the organization, in Calistoga at the Napa County Fairgrounds. If you've been following the news reports, you probably can guess what happened.
Around 4:30 PM, the first plumes of smoke were sighted over the mountains. A check in with CalFire provided assurance that the participants were in no danger from the fire which had burned about 400 acres at that point. Quick announcements were made with a promise of another check-in at dinner. At 6:00 PM, the group was told, once again, they were in no danger. But the fire grew rapidly; by 7:00 PM the blaze had consumed over 10,000 acres.
At this point, CalFire and other agencies started arriving to scope out the situation. While Breath California did not receive official word that they had to leave the fairgrounds, which would become an official evacuation center, by 8:30 PM the call was made to cancel the bike Trek, pack up and make way for the evacuees who would obviously be arriving soon.
Within 90 minutes, and with only the light of lanterns and headlights, the Trekkers (volunteers and staff) packed up their
own campsites and the entire infrastructure that is brought in for the Trek. The local Sheriff shook his head in amazement when he saw the fast action. Conveniently for the evacuation and firefighting effort, the canceled Trek provided a day's-worth of food, water, and even shower and bathroom facilities that were already on site for the event. These items were generously donated for the use of the evacuees.
By 10:30 PM when the last of the Breathe trucks pulled away from the fairgrounds, the first of the evacuees were streaming in. The stories they told were heartbreaking and frightening. Breathe California of Sacramento Emigrant trails is relieved and grateful that all Trekkers were able to evacuate the area without injury or incident. Trekkers' hearts go out to those who have lost their homes and communities in the wake of the fire's devastation.
Butte Fire Impacts Air Quality in Region
Smoke blankets region in particulate matter pollutants 

Over the weekend of September 12 and 13, and into the work week, smoke from the Butte fire blanketed the Greater Sacramento Region in air pollutants known as fine Particulate Matter, or PM2.5. Soot from fire contributes greatly to the volume of particulate matter in the air. 
Maps of air quality index measures, provided by the Region's air quality management districts, visually show where air quality issues are the greatest. Because of the unpredictable nature of wildfire smoke, particulate matter pollution levels are reported in real-time conditions on the Daily PM2.5 Air Quality Index map. Over the course of the past several days, PM2.5 levels have ranged from moderate to very unhealthy levels, depending on the amount of lingering smoke experienced in various areas. Spare the Air is an online resource that provides air quality information for the Greater Sacramento Region courtesy of the Sacramento Metropolitan, El Dorado, Feather River, Placer and Yolo-Solano Air Districts. As reported on Spare the Air website, "
If you see or smell smoke in your area you should stay indoors and avoid outdoor activities." Over the course of the weekend, concerns about health impacts resulted in the cancellation of youth sports events and other activities in many localities across the region.
Wildfire Smoke Increases Health Concerns
Fine particulate matter pollutants present greatest health risks 

Wildfire generates volumes of soot contributing to short-term Particulate Matter (PM) pollutants. PM pollutants are broken down into two categories. Larger particles, such as dust, pollen and mold, are technically referred to as PM10. Fine PM pollutants, known as PM2.5, are composed of substances such as soot from fires, particles from fossil fuel combustion, and tiny specks of materials such as tire rubber and brake pads. These small particles pose the greatest threat for causing health problems because they can get deep into the lungs and even into the blood stream. 
According to , people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children are considered at greater risk from exposure to PM pollutants than others, especially when they are physically active. This is because exercise and physical activity cause people to breathe faster and more deeply and to take more particles into their lungs. 
Short- and long-term exposure can lead to a variety of health issues. Multiple scientific studies indicate that long-term exposures to PM pollutants have been linked with reduced lung function, the development of chronic bronchitis and even premature death.  Exposure in the short-term, over hours or days, can aggravate lung disease, causing increased risk of asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase vulnerability to respiratory infections. For people with heart disease, short-term exposure can increase the risk of heart attacks and arrhythmias. 
Even healthy adults and children can experience effects from short-term exposure to fine PM pollutants. Symptoms may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; phlegm; chest tightness; and shortness of breath. The chances of being affected by particles increase the more strenuous the activity and the longer one is active outdoors. Activities that involve prolonged or heavy exertion should be reducing or substituted with activities that involve less exertion when PM levels are high.
Information to protect health and limit exposure to pollutants is readily available and easily found online. In addition, the Region's air pollution control officers are continuously monitoring air quality levels and are prepared to issue health alerts in the event pollution levels reach a critical level of concern.
Fortunately, the directions of the wind and a bit of precipitation late in the day on Monday helped dissipate pollutants and clear the air across the region. Meanwhile, fires continue to burn and air districts are keeping a vigilant watch on changing conditions.
Wildfire Update: Butte Fire Destruction Tallied 
Firefighters make progress, face continued challenges

As of September 15, the Butte fire in Amador and Calaveras Counties has burned over 71,000 acres and is 37 percent contained, according to CalFire
The fire has destroyed 166 residences, 116 outbuildings, damaged 12 structures and is a threat to an additional 6,400 structures. Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for several communities; evacuation advisories are in place for others. Multiple roads have been closed. 
Firefighters continue to fight the fire aggressively, but extremely dry vegetation, steep terrain, and limited fire access continue to provide challenges.
The Cleaner Air Partnership  is a joint project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce and Valley Vision to help the Sacramento Region meet clean air standards that protect health and promote economic growth.