The warmer the weather becomes, the more aware Valley residents should be of ozone pollution, the dominant pollutant in the summertime that can damage lung tissue, said officials from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.
Ground-level ozone is a gas that’s formed when a variety of pollution, from things like cars and factories, are baked in the sun, said Anthony Presto, outreach and communications representative for the district, in an email to the Sun-Star.
“The more sun, and the warmer and more stagnant it gets in the Valley, the more ozone accumulates at ground level, where it is breathed in by residents and animals,” Presto said. “Because days are longer in the summer, the Valley has a tendency build up high levels of ground-level ozone.”
May to September is when the Valley predominantly sees elevated ozone levels, because of the hot, sunny weather and stagnant wind, according to the district’s website.
High levels of ozone can aggravate asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, Presto said, and can harm vegetation.
In Merced County, respiratory disease is the fourth leading cause of death, according to the 2016 Community Health Assessment from the Merced County Department of Public Health. The Merced and Modesto area is the eighth most polluted part of the country, the report said.
Although there has been improvements in summertime air quality, Presto said, “we still have a long way to go.”
“The Valley does not meet federal health standards for ozone pollution,” he added.
Valley residents can check Real-Time Air Monitoring through the district’s website to see daily levels of ozone pollution. On the same website, people can also learn about the programs the district has to help residents afford appliances that are cleaner for the air, like lawn mowers and electric cars.
For more information on healthy air, go to http://www.healthyairliving.com/.
Monica Velez: 209-385-2486