LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — From near-zero visibility to clear skies, the air quality across the Las Vegas valley has changed rapidly due to the York Fire that started in Southern California.
The air quality index on August 3, 2023, was at 10 near the Las Vegas Strip but just two days earlier it got as high as 120 which is getting into the unhealthy range for sensitive groups.
Clark County has a team of 15 people who run 18 monitoring stations across the entire valley. These stations monitor more than just particles in the air. They also measure solar radiation, temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, precipitation, and wind.
“These sensors are very finely atoned to sense these things and those signals get processed and averaged. That’s the basic fundamental way that they work,” Senior Meteorologist and Monitoring Technician at the Clark County Department of Air Quality Paul Fransioli explained.
Monitoring conditions during fires can be difficult.
“Monitoring of the conditions of the fire ourselves it’s a challenge. Some of the fire data is so rapidly evolving,” Fransioli explained.
All the data they collect can be seen in real-time on their dashboard.
Fransioli said their department gets a lot of questions when the air quality is poor.
“When people can’t see the mountains, you hear from people what’s wrong with the air quality? Well, there is something wrong with it because now you can see it,” he said.
The air quality starts to affect your health at an air quality index of 50 or above. The Department of Air Quality is responsible for putting out any advisories or alerts on air quality.
These air quality monitoring stations are constantly running to get a clear picture of what the air quality is. They are in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency standards.
They don’t just monitor the air, they also help keep it clean with an enforcement section.