Dust blowing across the Nipomo Mesa is causing unusually unhealthy air quality for thousands of residents Wednesday afternoon, according to an alert sent by San Luis Obispo County Public Health and Air Pollution Control District.
Residents and those working and going to school in the neighborhoods surrounding Trilogy and Lange Elementary School are most affected. Those areas are downwind of the monitor showing the lowest air quality.
A regulatory air quality monitor posted at the Cal Fire station on Willow Road measured high levels of particulate matter, tiny particles that are a health risk. Blowing sand and dust is forecasted from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and will likely return Thursday afternoon.
The air quality Wednesday afternoon rated as “hazardous” by federal standards, meaning research has shown that 24-hour exposure to this level of particulate matter is likely to affect the entire population and not only sensitive individuals.
“It has happened before. It doesn’t happen very often,” said Gary Arcemont, a meteorologist with the Air Pollution Control District.
It last happened in May.
Poor air quality can trigger constant cough and asthma, and long-term exposure can lead to lung damage and lung disease, according the Centers for Disease Control.
County officials recommend all adults and children avoid strenuous outdoor activity, remain indoors as much as possible and set an ventilation system to recirculation.
“If staying indoors does not provide relief, temporarily leaving the area and going to a location where the sand is not blowing and dust is not visible is advised,” the news release says.
Join us for an open house and forum at Mesa Middle School on Sept. 4 to learn about how to protect your family from poor air quality. Learn more and RSVP here.
To receive the daily air quality forecast, visit slocleanair.org/air-quality/forecasting.pcp.