California fires affecting air quality in North County
–The San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Air Pollution Control District Public Health Department and Office of Emergency Services are working in partnership to assess the air quality in order to identify any potential health impacts and to inform the community about safeguarding individual health. At this time, San Luis Obispo County is being impacted by smoke from wildfires across California and by a developing fire in Monterey County named the Turkey Fire.
Expect skies to be hazy and fine particulate concentrations to be higher than normal. Air quality is ranging from “Moderate” to “Unhealthy” for sensitive groups. Changing winds make it difficult to predict which areas of the county may be most affected. However, until the fires are put out, smoke will likely be intermittently present in our region.
If you smell smoke or see ash fall
Air District officials recommend that if you smell smoke or see ash, take precautions and use common sense to reduce your exposure to smoke. All adults and children should:
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity
- Remain indoors as much as possible
- Close all windows and doors that lead outside to prevent bringing additional smoke inside
- Set any heating/air conditioning/ventilation systems to recirculate
These precautions are especially important for sensitive groups, including children, older adults, and people with existing respiratory illness and heart conditions, as they are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of poor air quality. Families with small children should be aware that even if adults in the household have no symptoms, children may experience symptoms due to their smaller body mass and developing lungs. If smoke increases, healthy people could be affected as well. If you experience a cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, exhaustion, light-headedness or chest pain, stop any outdoor activity immediately and seek medical attention. More information can be found at slocleanair.org/air-quality/wildfire.
APCD and County officials will continue to closely monitor smoke impacts and air quality in San Luis Obispo County. By following the air quality index (AQI), the public can also monitor real-time air quality throughout SLO County. The AQI focuses on health effects individuals may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.
The current and forecasted AQI is available via the APCD website: slocleanair.org and you can also follow the SLO County APCD and Public Health Department Twitter feeds for the latest updates (@slocleanair and @SLOPublicHealth). You can also sign up for AirAware alerts right on your phone by visiting their website at SLOCleanAir.org.
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