The mix of scorching temperatures and nearby wildfires resulted in higher rates of unhealthy air throughout Merced and the rest of the Central Valley, air quality officials reported.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health cautionary statement Valley-wide, according to a news release. Smoke from wildfires burning in Mariposa County, the South Fork Fire and Empire Fire, are impacting air in different Valley locations, officials said, as well as emissions from recent Fresno County fires, Flat Fire and Hill Fire.
Until the wildfires are extinguished, the statement said, poor air quality will continue to be a concern.
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“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,” said Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the Valley Air District in a statement. “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.”
Since Saturday, air quality in Merced has reached unhealthy levels in ozone pollution for sensitive groups, according to the Valley Air Districts Real-Time Air Advisory data. Sensitive groups include children, seniors and anyone with heart or lung problems.
Ozone is the dominant pollutant in the summertime, officials said, and is formed when a variety of pollutants, from things like cars and factories and baked in the sun. Rates of unhealthy air are expected to continue throughout the week based on weather conditions, Valley Air District officials said.
On Wednesday and Thursday temperatures in Merced are expected to stay between 100 and 105 degrees, said William Peterson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford. Going into the weekend, he said, temperatures will climb up to 105 to 110 degrees.
Williams advices people to stay out of the heat during the hottest point of the day, between 3 p.m. and 7. Spikes in unhealthy also tend to be during the highest temperatures of the day, according to Valley Air District data.
“Stay in cool areas, check on elderly and pets and I hope it (the heat) comes to an end soon,” Williams said.
Cooling Zones in Merced County open on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017
Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St., 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Atwater Community Center, 760 E. Bellevue Road, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dos Palos City-County Building, 1546 Golden Gate Ave, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Community Room in Gustine, 205 Sixth St., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Livingston Police Department, 1446 C St., 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Livingston Community Center, 645 Seventh St., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.