Dust levels up in SLO County

Although San Luis Obispo County’s air quality remains much better than other parts of California, unusual weather patterns have caused a slight increase in dust levels locally.

Records kept by the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District show local air quality has already violated state standards for fine particulate matter twice this year. That’s unusual, said Aeron Arlin-Genet, air district spokeswoman.

“It’s nothing compared to what is happening elsewhere in the state, particularly the Central Valley,” she said.

San Luis Obispo County experienced no particulate violations in December and January during the three-year period of 2008 to 2010. Particulates are airborne flecks of dust, smoke or sand that are small enough for people to breathe into their lungs.

The high particulate levels are due to the unusually dry weather and relatively calm winds. This has resulted in unseasonably dry conditions and stagnant air, Arlin-Genet said.

“It really depends on the wind conditions,” she said. “With stagnant air, you are going to pick up sources in the immediate area.”