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Weather conditions lead to Air Alert

POSTED September 20, 2011 8:42 p.m.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District initiated an Air Alert Tuesday that will continue through Thursday, and may be extended to Friday. During these times residents are asked to curtail practices that increase smog-forming emissions. The alert is for the entire Central Valley.

The district said the Air Alert was issued because conditions such as high temperatures, a high-pressure system and stagnant wind patterns are contributing to a build-up in ozone (smog) over the next several days. 

Air pollution can cause respiratory and heart problems, especially among children, the elderly and those with existing health concerns.

Eighty percent of the Valley’s ozone problem is caused by vehicle use. When an Air Alert is declared, residents and businesses are urged to put into place measures that reduce vehicle miles traveled, including  carpooling, vanpooling, using alternative transportation, avoiding the use of drive-through services and refraining from vehicle idling. All of these actions produce emissions that lead to ozone formation.  Businesses are asked to offer flexible scheduling to reduce commute-time traffic and allow telecommuting. Additionally, residents and businesses are encouraged to shift ozone creating activities, such as lawn maintenance, to early mornings or after the Air Alert episode is over.

In addition, a large composting fire in Lathrop is producing areas of localized smoke which may impact Manteca in San Joaquin County. Smoke contains particulate matter, small pieces of airborne material such as soot and ash, which is dangerous to human health. High levels of PM can cause serious health problems, aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and increase risk of respiratory infections.

In the event of exposure to smoke, the district recommends people with heart or lung diseases should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of unhealthy air quality. Additionally, older adults and children should avoid prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion.

The district has incorporated the use of social media and texting to spread the Air Alert. To sign up for Air Alerts visit http://valleyair.org/lists/list.htm.

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