The San Joaquin Valley is experiencing extremely poor air quality due to smoke from the Camp Wildfire. For this reason, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is issuing an unusual "Very Unhealthy, Purple Forecast" for Saturday for Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. Poor air quality is expected to continue into next week.
The most severe smoke impacts are expected to occur in the northern counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced, creating unhealthy air quality in the region, according to the air district. The Health Caution/Air Quality Alert will remain in place and smoke impacts are likely, until the fires are extinguished.
The poor air quality prompted the closure of both the Turlock and Stockton campuses of California State University, Stanislaus through Monday, and the cancellation of all outdoor activities at Turlock Unified School District sites.
The Sac-Joaquin Section postponed high school football playoff games that were scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The games scheduled for this weekend — including the Hilmar High D-VI semifinal game and the Denair High D-VII section final game — will now be contested the weekend of Nov. 23 and 24. The Division 1-3 championships will be Dec. 1 at Sacramento State. The Division 4-6 championships will be held the weekend of Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
Smoke from wildfires produces particulate matter which can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to the health effects from these pollutants. Pets also can be affected by unhealthy air and should be brought indoors, if possible.
The most effective way to reduce exposure and avoid the ill effects of smoke is to stay indoors with windows and doors closed, according to the air district.
Central ducted air conditioning and heating systems should be operated with the fresh-air intake closed to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside, and if possible, residents should install a high efficiency filter with a MERV rating as high as the manufacturer of the system recommends.
Residents can use the District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) to track air quality at any Valley address by visiting myRAAN.com. The RAAN monitors are designed to detect the microscopic PM2.5 particles that exist in smoke. Ash pieces, however, are much larger in size and will not be detected. If an area is impacted by smoke and ash fall, air quality should be considered “unhealthy” (RAAN Level 4 or higher) even if the monitor reflects a lower reading.
The public can check the District’s wildfire page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires for information about any current wildfires, whether they are impacting the Valley and steps you can take to protect yourself. In addition, anyone can follow air quality conditions by downloading the free “Valley Air” app.