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About Us

Mission Statement

“Preserving air quality and protecting the public health and public welfare in Nevada, Plumas and Sierra counties.”

The Northern Sierra Air Management District was formed in 1986 by the merging of the Air Pollution Control Districts of Nevada, Plumas and Sierra Counties. The District is required by state law to achieve and maintain the federal and state Ambient Air Quality Standards, which are air quality standards set at levels that will protect the public health. The District is composed of three primary entities, each with a specific purpose: District staff, Governing Board of Directors, and Hearing Board.

Hearing Board

The Hearing Board is composed of five members: a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, and two public members. The Hearing Board serves various functions: It has sole authority to grant a variance, allowing a company to continue operating in violation of a District rule while the problem is being corrected; it can hear requests for appeal of decisions rendered by the APCO, either from industry or a private citizen; it can issue abatement orders; and revoke a source’s permit.

Air Quality Standards

Air pollution is regulated by two types of standards: emission standards and ambient air quality standards. Emission standards are the levels of air pollutants a source is allowed to release into the air. Ambient air quality standards are levels of air pollutants that if exceeded are considered unhealthy to breathe. If there have been no violations of an ambient air quality standard, an area is said to be in attainment. If there have been violations of a standard, the state or federal government designates the area nonattainment for that pollutant. When an area is designated non-attainment, many expensive and onerous requirements are placed on industry, businesses, the public, and the District to achieve attainment within a specified time. Non-attainment is something to avoid for both health reasons and economic reasons.

Air Pollution Monitoring

The District maintains a variety of air pollution monitoring equipment to monitor air pollution levels.

Sources of Pollutants

The District is required by the state to maintain an emissions inventory of criteria and air toxic pollutants. This inventory is used to determine how much of each pollutant is coming from each source type. Most of the air pollution generated within the District comes from motor vehicles. Such knowledge is used in formulating emission control strategies for pollutants of concern and to determine if monitored pollution levels are due to transport of pollutants from upwind areas, or due to local emissions.

Our climate, topography, and the growing number of people, industries, businesses, and cars collectively contribute to the formation of smog. The pollutants of greatest concern are ozone, particulate matter, and air toxins.

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