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State wildfires impacting local air quality

POSTED July 14, 2017 7:06 p.m.

Smoke from several wildfires burning in California is having an impact on the Valley’s air quality, prompting air officials to issue a health warning for the area.

Smoke from the Whittier (Santa Barbara County), Alamo (San Luis Obispo County) and Garza (Kings County) fires is affecting air quality in all locations throughout the San Joaquin Valley, from San Joaquin County to the Valley portion of Kern County. Smoke from the Schaeffer Fire located in Tulare County is affecting air quality in the foothill and mountain areas of Tulare and Kern County, especially the communities of Kennedy Meadows and Johnsondale. 

The strong high-pressure system parked over the Valley is causing smoke emissions to remain trapped within the air basin and spikes in particulate matter levels and ozone levels are possible, according to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Smoke from fires produces particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to health effects from these pollutants. Air District officials urge residents to follow their doctors’ orders when exposed to PM 2.5 and stay indoors if at all possible.

The health caution will remain in place and smoke impacts will continue until the fires are extinguished.

An area experiencing ash particles is especially harmful to the health of individuals. If smoke is smelt and ash is seen the air quality should be considered unhealthy.

Residents can check the District’s wildfire page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires for information about any current wildfires and whether they are impacting the Valley. Residents can check the nearest RAAN monitor to their location to determine localized air-quality conditions at www.valleyair.org/RAAN.

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