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Free air purifiers to deal with wildfire risks being offered
air district

The Valley Air District will help low income households weather wildfires that are ramping UP due to dry conditions made worse by the continuing drought.

The agency will make 1,500 portable  residential air purifying units with one replacement filter available for free to low income households within disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquín Valley.

Manteca meets the definition of being a disadvantaged community.

Dubbed the “Clean Airs Pilot Program”, it involves residential versions of portable air purifiers that are now in every Manteca Unified School District classroom.

The purifiers — besides reducing the spreading of COVID, flu and even germs that cause colds — are designed to cleanse the air of smoke and other particles.


Having a ‘clean room’

helps combat fire impacts

“Smoke from severe wildfires can inundate the Valley and make its way into homes, causing health impacts to our most vulnerable residents,” noted Samir Sheikh, Executive Director  of the Valley Air District.  “This program is designed to help families who may not otherwise be able to buy an in-home air purifier to protect their families during wildfires.”

In an indoor environment where windows and doors are closed and sealed tightly, HEPA air filtration devices, such as those that will be offered under this program, can reduce particulate matter indoors by more than 90 percent.

Use of air filtration devices to create “clean air rooms”, such as a bedroom, will ensure that the home has a dedicated space with safe indoor air quality during smoke events. 

The 10 worst metro areas in the nation for air quality issues include Central Valley counties such as Bakersfield, Kern, Madera, Sacramento, Shasta, and Butte.

Despite being in better shape than places like Bakersfield, Fresno, Hanford, Sacramento, Roseville, Chico, and Redding San Joaquin County failed in all three categories of the State of the Air 2022 assessment. The report was issued by the American Red Cross based on data gleaned from the Environmental Protection Agency.

That means there has not been a single year since 2000 when there have been not been excessive high ozone days as well as an excessive number of 24-hour periods of high particle levels that did  not exceed the acceptable levels of three days. Annual particle pollution was only a tad better with four years — 2009 thru 2012 when they were less than the acceptable 12 annual days.


130,000 people in

SJ County have health

issue risks made worse

by wildfire smoke

As a result, the American Red Cross noted there are more than 130,000 people among the county’s 767,967 residents that have health issues that put them at greater risk. The list runs from 29,509 cases of adult asthma and 13,961 cases of pediatric asthma to 38,004 people with cardiovascular disease and 29,509 with COPD among other ailments.

Excessive ozone days have gone from a high of 36 in 1996 to 7 in 2020.

Particle pollution in the 24-hour category — exacerbated in recent years by wildfires — went from 12 in 2000 down to four 2005 before starting a mostly upward  climb until the number of days reached 26 in 2020.

Ozone pollution is the result of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide emissions from motor vehicles or other sources, mixed in the presence of sunlight. It can lead to increased wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness, especially among susceptible children who play outdoors in polluted environments.

Particle pollution, also known as particulate matter or PM, is a general term for a mixture of solid and liquid droplets suspended in the air. Particle pollution comes in many sizes and shapes.

It can be made up of a number of different components, including acids (such as sulfuric acid), inorganic compounds (such as ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate, and sodium chloride), organic chemicals, soot, metals, soil or dust particles, and biological materials (such as pollen and mold spores.

Particulate matter can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Individuals with heart or lung disease should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of PM exposure. Those with existing respiratory conditions, including COVID-19, young children and the elderly, are especially susceptible to the health effects from this form of pollution.


Information on

free air purifiers

Residents experiencing poor air quality due to wildfire smoke should move to a filtered, air-conditioned environment with windows closed. Common cloth and paper masks being used as protection from COVID-19 may not be sufficient protection from wildfire smoke inhalation.

For outdoor workers and other individuals that may not be able to remain indoors, state health authorities recommend the use of N95 facemasks as feasible.

Free air purifiers will be made available soon to low-income households. For more information, email:, or speak to Air District staff, call 559-230-5800.