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100 plus degree heat means air quality suffers

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POSTED June 7, 2013 12:53 a.m.

A lot of factors impact air quality.

Dust. Smoke. “Particulate” matter of all different varieties that abound in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley.

But it’s the one thing that we can’t see that will make the biggest impact when the mercury soars past the century mark this weekend and forces those with less-than-stellar breathing to stay indoors.

Ozone.

According to San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Communications Representative Anthony Presto, it’ll be high levels of ozone pollution that’ll likely impact the air quality and be part of the driving force behind the district’s report for what is supposed to be a record shattering heat wave on Saturday.

The official release will be posted to the district’s website tonight.

While it won’t mean much to normal adults and healthy children, sensitive groups – like seniors and those with breathing-related illnesses like asthma and emphysema – are encouraged to stay indoors when the air quality dips.

“While air pollution can affect everybody, sensitive groups have the tendency to feel the effects sooner,” Presto said. “At times the quality will get into the dangerous level – the red flag that you’ll see at our monitoring sites – and it’ll be unhealthy for everybody to be outside. And they’ll fluctuate.

“They might start out as healthy but deteriorate as the day goes on before improving.”

More than a year ago the district installed a particulate matter measuring center at the corner of Winters Drive and Fishback Road – on the Sierra High School Campus – that helped provide a much more accurate picture about the air quality in Manteca.

And as part of the program, the school started flying the flags that identified the quality for that day – something that was subsequently picked up by an elementary school in Lathrop as a service to residents in that community.

While it’s still relatively early in the fire season, San Joaquin Valley residents have been lucky thus far that those that have struck Northern California – a fire several weeks ago burned several hundred acres in Plumas County – haven’t impacted air quality for residents.

“Fortunately there isn’t anything going on right now, but fires are something that we definitely need to be aware of,” Presto said. “When there’s a wildfire the smoke will sometimes affect residents in the valley, so when people smell smoke we encourage them to stay indoors as much as they can.

“That’s pretty much the same for the hot conditions that can cause high levels ozone pollution – staying indoors as much as possible is the best bet for everybody.”

Presto encourages people to check the district’s real-time status updates at www.valleyair.org.

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