With the massive Soberanes Fire blazing across Monterey County and the Sand Fire in Los Angeles County torching southern California, the resulting smoke and particulate has begun to affect air quality here in the Central Valley.
The scorched forests and communities prompted a state of emergency declaration earlier this week, and evacuations were ordered for some areas as direct results of the flames.
Smoke emissions coming off the flames are being trapped in the Valley and are causing health concerns for area residents.
“The businesses and residents of the Valley have done so much to reduce summertime pollution that it is unfortunate when these wildfires overwhelm that great work,” stated Seyed Sadredin, the District’s executive director and air pollution control officer. “However, the public needs to be advised that while these fires burn and bring smoke into the Valley, they need to take the appropriate steps to protect their health.”
Smoke from wildfires produces particulate matter and contributes to the creation of ozone, which can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.
“First and foremost, residents should protect themselves by reducing exposure,” said Anthony Presto district outreach and communications representative. “If residents can see or smell smoke they’re being impacted. That is when you should go indoors in an air filtered environment (…) that’s the important thing we need to drive home with Valley residents.”
While air conditions remain unhealthy residents are also being urged to do whatever they can to limit additional particulate being introduced into the air.
“We want residents of the Valley to do what they can to not make the situation any worse,” said Presto. “Here in the Valley where air pollution is always a concern, we ask residents to realize the impact they have on the air quality and live clean air lives.”
Residents are also encouraged to utilize valuable tools provided by the District for monitoring air pollution.
The Real-time Air Advisory Network detects fine particulate matter that exists within wildfire smoke. While this system is very effective in monitoring microscopic amounts of particulate in the air, large ash particles may not be detected by RAAN, meaning residents should also use their senses to monitor air conditions.
With the fires burning out of control and upcoming weather conditions not projecting to help stifle the flames, air conditions are likely to remain at these unhealthy levels through the weekend and possibly well into next week.