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Air district warns of 'deteriorating' air quality, urges precautions

The San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District said that deteriorating air quality Valley-wide for the next few days prompted air officials to remind the public to take note of their local air quality and take appropriate precautionary measures as conditions dictate.

“It’s important to learn how to protect yourself from high ozone, and also to reduce emissions that cause it,” said Samir Sheikh, director of the air district’s Strategies and Incentives Department, which includes air quality analysis.

Ozone — or smog — is formed when pollutants mix in heat and sunlight, and is corrosive to tissue. People with respiratory disease, young children and elderly people are particularly susceptible to increased ozone levels, the district said in a news release.

Some of the effects of high ozone are burning eyes, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing. Ozone can also exacerbate asthma. For information about the Air Quality Index (AQI) and what health-protective measures to take, visit http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi.

Air quality forecasts are issued by county each day at 4:30 p.m. and are available www.valleyair.org or 1-800 SMOG INFO (766-4463).

In the Valley, according to the release, vehicle use is a major source of the emissions that create ozone. To reduce these emissions, the air district encourages people reduce their vehicle use, including carpooling or vanpooling; using public transportation; taking a lunch to work or ordering in; and scheduling errands to do at one time. Other healthy air living tips include postponing using gas-powered lawn care equipment (for more tips, visit www.healthyairliving.com).

For more information about the Valley Air District, call a regional office: in Fresno (559) 230-6000; in Bakersfield (661) 392-5500; and in Modesto (209) 557-6400.

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