The San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District said deteriorating air quality throughout the air basin has prompted a health cautionary statement and wood-burning prohibitions in various counties.
The health caution because of gusty winds is in effect through this evening in Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Madera, western Fresno and Kings counties. Winds may produce areas of localized blowing dust, which can result in unhealthy concentrations of particulate matter 10 microns and smaller, or PM10.
"Take precautions to protect your health if you are in an area of blowing dust," said Samir Sheikh, director of the Air District’s Strategies and Incentives Department.
Exposure to particle pollution can cause serious health problems, aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and increase risk of respiratory infections, the district said in a news release.
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Residents in these areas are advised to use caution through this evening. People with heart or lung diseases should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of unhealthy air quality. Additionally, older adults and children should avoid prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion.
There are two levels of wood-burning forecast: “Wood Burning Prohibited” or “Please Burn Cleanly.” When a prohibition is declared, burning any solid fuel in a residential fireplace or wood-burning device is not permitted. Residences without access to natural gas service or where wood-burning is the sole source of heat are exempt from these prohibitions.
Prohibition violations are subject to fines.
For more information about Check Before You Burn or the daily wood-burning forecast, visit www.valleyair.org. Forecasts are also available at 1-800 SMOG INFO (766-4463).Sun-Star staff