Environment

Wildfire smoke has reached SLO County. Here’s how to protect your lungs

Smoke creates a hazy sky over the Irish Hills in San Luis Obispo just before sunset Monday. Air quality in most parts of San Luis Obispo County has dropped from good to moderate due to wildfires elsewhere in California, according to the county Air Pollution Control District.
Smoke creates a hazy sky over the Irish Hills in San Luis Obispo just before sunset Monday. Air quality in most parts of San Luis Obispo County has dropped from good to moderate due to wildfires elsewhere in California, according to the county Air Pollution Control District. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The haze over San Luis Obispo County isn’t the marine layer. Instead, it’s a plume of smoke that traveled down the California coast from the Camp Fire in Northern California, wafting pollution into our air.

As a result, air quality in most parts of San Luis Obispo County has dropped from good to moderate, and in some cases is teetering on the edge of being unhealthy, according to the county Air Pollution Control District data. That means people should use precaution to avoid the harmful effects of smoke.

“For those highly sensitive individuals, especially infants, elderly and those with significant underlying respiratory or cardiac conditions, among others, the best courses of action are to avoid strenuous outdoor activity and remain indoors as much as possible and set heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems to recirculation,” said Penny Borenstein, director of the county Public Health Department.

The situation here is nowhere near as bad as air in Northern California, where air quality has reached hazardous levels. But it is concerning enough to be cause for caution.

“We do see the smoke and it will have impacts on some people,” said Gary Willey, director of the county Air Pollution Control District.

The smoke is streaming down the state from the Camp Fire near Paradise, more than 350 miles to the north.

Wind is pushing the smoke plume down through the Bay Area and out to sea, before an onshore wind pushes the plume over the ocean back to San Luis Obispo County, Willey said. The wind pushes the plume out in the morning and back in the afternoon.

It’s expected to stay smoky through Tuesday. Stormy weather expected Wednesday will likely clear up the smoke, and hopefully help extinguish the fire, Willey said.

For more information, go to www.slocleanair.org.

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The Air Quality Index in San Luis Obispo is nearing unhealthy levels for some groups of people due to smoke from the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. SLO County Air Pollution Control District

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Smoke from wildfires caused particulate pollution in San Luis Obispo to near unhealthy levels.

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Smoke from the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. caused air quality to be downgraded from good to moderate.

Air quality Nipomo.JPG
Air quality in Nipomo is often impacted by blowing sand from the Oceano Dunes. It’s now impacted by smoke from wildfires.
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