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August 1, 2014

Valley Air District officials extend wildfire smoke health caution through weekend

Valley Air District officials have extended a health warning sent out earlier this week, reminding residents to protect themselves from wildfire smoke.

Valley Air District officials have extended a health warning sent out earlier this week, reminding residents to protect themselves from wildfire smoke.

Smoke from wildfires in the Sierra Nevada will continue to affect air quality in foothill and mountain communities through the weekend and remain on the Valley floor, officials said Friday.

“We urge Valley residents to take note of their local air quality conditions and take precautions as needed,” said Jaime Holt, chief communications officer for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District..

For the past several days, the French, Dark Hole and El Portal fires have sent smoke to foothill and mountain communities in Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties and to the Valley floor. Also, new fires have started in Northern California.

Smoke from fire is mainly particulate matter that can be very harmful to public health. Particulate matter can lodge deep in the lungs, causing illnesses such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, as well as lung infections.

People with respiratory conditions, are especially susceptible to health effects from these pollutants. Children and the elderly are also vulnerable. Air District officials urge residents to follow their doctors’ orders when exposed to wildfire smoke.

If people can see or smell smoke, there is a high chance their lungs are being affected, officials warn. The best way to protect oneself is to stay indoors with filtered air.

For more information on smoke and updates on air quality, people can visit the Valley Air District’s wildfire page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires.

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