Washington County has lifted a "red day alert" that ran from Wednesday through noon Thursday, Nov. 15, due to poor air quality.
On Wednesday, the county had declared a "yellow day," but air quality declined throughout the day and the quality rating was downgraded to "red" in the afternoon.
But as of noon today, Washington County and the cities of Hillsboro and Cornelius have been upgraded back to "yellow" status.
"We are seeing a slight improvement in air quality in our county," Washington County Environmental Health's Kathleen Johnson said. "That being said, conditions are still unhealthy for sensitive groups including children, older adults and people with respiratory conditions, and we ask people to consider their neighbors before burning wood."
Residents who need to burn wood for heat are encouraged to burn only dry, seasoned wood. More information on the safest, cleanest and most efficient ways to burn wood is available at an Environmental Protection Agency website.
Air inversions, such as the one experienced this week, can trap wood smoke pollution near the ground, where people breathe the smoke particles deep into their lungs.
"Some people, especially children, older adults, and individuals with lung or heart disease, are more sensitive to air pollution," Washington County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Christina Baumann said. "By not adding to the problem, we can help protect the health of our community."