The calendar and the temperature index still show that it’s summer, but the sky looks more like a dreary winter day as smoke from the various wildfires burning in the state continue to leave a lingering haze over the Central Valley and Foothill regions.
The Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County and other fires burning in California has created a thick blanket of smoke that is affecting air quality in locations throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley with especially severe conditions in the foothill and mountain communities. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District wants to remind Valley residents that a health caution is in place and smoke impacts will continue until the fires are extinguished.
Smoke from fires can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks and increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. Where conditions warrant, people with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of particulate exposure. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to the health effects from these pollutants. Anyone being exposed to poor air quality or wildfire smoke should move inside to an air-conditioned environment.
Fine particulate matter can invade the bloodstream, get deep into the lungs and has been linked to heart attacks and stroke. The District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network detects the fine particulates in the air.
The RAAN monitors are designed to detect the fine particulates, which are microscopic in size and not visible to the human eye) that exist in smoke. Ash particles are much larger in size and will not be detected by the monitors. Therefore, an area may be experiencing ash impacts from potential fires while the PM monitor reflects a moderate reading. The Air District said if people can see ash or smell smoke then they should try to remain indoors.
The public 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. In addition, anyone can follow air quality conditions by downloading the free “Valley Air” app, available in the Apple store or Google Play.