Ongoing fires from an unprecedented wildfire season happening across California are continuing to cause smoke impacts to most counties of the Valley air basin.
While the Valley experienced several days of relief from the thick cover of wildfire smoke, air quality is expected to deteriorate again over the coming days and the District warns residents to stay indoors to reduce their exposure to particulate matter emissions.
The District anticipates air quality to be unhealthy in a number of regions in the Valley and to worsen as the week progresses. Smoke will remain on the Valley floor and will increase as the weekend approaches, eventually impacting the entire San Joaquin Valley which includes San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare counties and the valley portion of Kern County. Additionally, the Creek Fire, located in Fresno/Madera counties and the SQF Complex Fire, located in Tulare County, are still having tremendous impacts on the nearby foothill communities and neighboring counties.
PM pollution can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Individuals with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of PM exposure. Those with existing respiratory conditions, including COVID-19, young children and the elderly, are especially susceptible to the health effects from this form of pollution. Anyone experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke should move indoors, to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed. The common cloth and paper masks individuals are wearing due to COVID-19 concerns may not protect them from wildfire smoke.
Residents can use the District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) to track air quality at any Valley location by visiting myRAAN.com. District air monitoring stations are designed to detect microscopic PM 2.5 particles that exist in smoke. However, larger particles, such as ash, may not be detected. If you smell smoke or see falling ash in your immediate vicinity, consider air quality “unhealthy” (RAAN Level 4 or higher) even if RAAN displays lower level of pollution.
The public can also check the District’s wildfire page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires for information about any current and recently past wildfires affecting the Valley. In addition, anyone can follow air quality conditions by downloading the free “Valley Air” app on their mobile device.
For more information, visit www.valleyair.org.