A changing weather pattern and multiple wildfires burning in Northern California, and other fires burning in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties, have prompted local air officials to issue a health caution for potential smoke impacts for the entire San Joaquin Valley.
The health caution will remain in place until the fires are extinguished, or until smoke is no longer affecting the Valley. The District warns residents being impacted by smoke to stay indoors to reduce their exposure to particulate matter (PM) emissions.
Particulate matter 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 to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed. Common cloth and paper masks being used as protection from COVID-19 may not be sufficient protection from wildfire smoke inhalation.
The public is advised to visit the District’s Wildfire Information Page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires for details on current and recently past wildfires affecting the Valley. The site includes resources on how to protect yourself from exposure to wildfire smoke, including instructions on how to make a DIY air filter for your home, links to foothill air monitors and the District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN), allowing residents to track air quality at any Valley location. You can visit RAAN directly at myRAAN.com or use the “Valley Air” app, free to download on any mobile device. In addition, see the EPA’s recommendations on “What Can I Do Now to Protect My Family from Wildfire Smoke?”
For more information, visit www.valleyair.org or call the District office at 209-557-6400.