Windy conditions forecast for the Central Valley this week are raising the possibility of poor air quality, although recent precipitation may help keep dust from blowing around, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said.
“Rain can knock dust down and the ground isn’t dry to kick up the dust,” said Anthony Presto, outreach and communications representative for the air district.
Sometimes rainfall isn’t enough to clean the air from high concentrations of particulate matter, dust, pollen, soot or smoke, Presto said in an email to the Sun-Star, because the particulate matter is so small, the rain can pass right through it.
For instance, when it comes to wood burning, a “good storm” is needed to clean up the air, because the size of the particles is usually too small for the eyes to see, Presto said.
“They’re significant enough that it’s detrimental to public health,” Presto said.
The particles are so small, there is a chance of them entering the lungs and then the bloodstream, Presto said, which can cause greater risks of strokes and heart attacks.
Now we’re getting into the winter time. Particulate matter will become an issue. When it’s cold and stagnant, particulate matter is building.
Anthony Presto, outreach and communications representative for San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District
To keep the air clean and at healthy levels, Presto said, residential cooperation is needed, especially when more residents start to burn wood to heat their homes.
“Fine particulate also stays aloft longer, causing it to build up even more, whereas dust will eventually settle, smoke from fireplaces does not,” Presto said.
Presto said Valley air consistently becomes unhealthy during the winter months, and burning wood creates unhealthy effects on residents. Community members who wish to burn wood should familiarize themselves with the air district’s Check Before You Burn program at www.valleyair.org/aqinfo/cbyb.htm.
The air district encourages residents who have a fireplace or older wood stove to consider using the district’s Burn Cleaner program to upgrade to a cleaner-burning unit. More information can be found at www.valleyair.org/grants/burncleaner.htm.
The program begins Nov. 1 and continues through February.
“Residents should look at what they’re using to heat homes in the winter,” Presto said. “The best thing for residents to do is upgrade to a natural gas insert because it’s the cleanest and most effective way to heat a home.”