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Winds prompt air quality warning
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The current deteriorating state of the Central Valley’s air basin has prompted air officials to issue a health warning and the first burning prohibition of the season in several counties.

Because of gusty winds kicking up large amounts of dust and particles, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health warning to residents, especially those with respiratory problems.

The warning was for Stanislaus, Merced, San Joaquin, Madera, western Fresno and Kings counties.

Exposure to particle pollution can cause serious health problems, aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and increase risk of respiratory infections.

People with heart or lung diseases should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of unhealthy air quality. Additionally, older adults and children should avoid prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion.

"Take precautions to protect your health if you are in an area of blowing dust," said Samir Sheikh, director of the district’s Strategies and Incentives Department.

The district’s Check Before You Burn program began Tuesday and already the district has issued two restrictions. Wood-burning curtailments have been issued for Tulare and the Valley portion of Kern counties for today and tonight.

There are two levels of wood-burning forecast: “Wood Burning Prohibited” or “Please Burn Cleanly.” When a prohibition is declared, burning any solid fuel in a residential fireplace or wood-burning device is not permitted. Residences without access to natural gas service or where wood-burning is the sole source of heat are exempt from these prohibitions.

Prohibition violations are subject to fines.

For more information about Check Before You Burn or the daily wood-burning forecast, visit Forecasts are also available at 1-800 SMOG INFO (766-4463).

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.