Triple-Digit Heat, Wild­fires Im­pact Val­ley’s Air Qual­ity

The Oakdale Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

Smoke from the South Fork Fire and Em­pire Fire, both burn­ing in Mari­posa County, and emis­sions from the re­cent Flat Fire and Hill Fire in Fresno County are af­fect­ing air qual­ity in lo­ca­tions through­out the San Joaquin Val­ley. Triple-digit tem­per­a­tures cou­pled with stag­nant air are con­ducive for the for­ma­tion of ozone. El­e­vated par­tic­u­late mat­ter and ozone lev­els through­out the Val­ley are prompt­ing Air Dis­trict of­fi­cials to is­sue a health cau­tion­ary state­ment Val­ley-wide.

Air of­fi­cials an­nounced on

Mon­day that they are ex­pect­ing these poor air qual­ity con­di­tions to con­tinue through this week, based on the pro­jected weather con­di­tions, and im­pacts from these wild­fires will con­tinue to be a con­cern un­til the fires are ex­tin­guished.

The wild­fires burn­ing around the Val­ley cou­pled with high heat and a strong high pres­sure sys­tem lin­ger­ing over the Val­ley are caus­ing smoke emis­sions to re­main trapped within the air basin and spikes in par­tic­u­late mat­ter lev­els and ozone lev­els are pos­si­ble, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the af­ter­noon hours.

“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/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 (PM) 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. Peo­ple with ex­ist­ing res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions, young chil­dren and el­derly peo­ple are es­pe­cially sus­cep­ti­ble to health ef­fects from these pol­lu­tants. Air Dis­trict of­fi­cials urge res­i­dents to fol­low their doc­tors’ or­ders when ex­posed to wild­fire emis­sions and stay in­doors if at all pos­si­ble.

Also, a re­minder that the Dis­trict’s Real-time Air Ad­vi­sory Net­work (RAAN) mon­i­tors are de­signed to de­tect the fine par­tic­u­lates (called PM 2.5 which are mi­cro­scopic in size and not vis­i­ble to the hu­man eye) that ex­ist in wild­fire smoke. Ash par­ti­cles are much larger in size and will not be de­tected by the Air Dis­trict’s mon­i­tors. There­fore an area may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing im­pacts from these wild­fires while the PM mon­i­tor re­flects a mod­er­ate read­ing. If you can see or smell smoke or ash, that is an in­di­ca­tion that you should be treat­ing air qual­ity con­di­tions as “Un­healthy” and re­main in­doors.

Res­i­dents 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. Res­i­dents can also check the near­est air mon­i­tor to their lo­ca­tion to de­ter­mine lo­cal­ized air-qual­ity con­di­tions. Visit the Real­time Air Ad­vi­sory Net­work to sub­scribe for free: www.val­leyair.org/RAAN.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.val­leyair.org or call the Dis­trict of­fice in Modesto at 209-557-6400.

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