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Central Coast air quality affected by smoke from wildfires

SLO County Air Quality
Posted at 6:43 AM, Aug 17, 2021

As wildfires continue burning across the state air quality is being affected by smoke, even in places far from the fires here on the Central Coast.

Some parts of the Central Coast saw smoke in the air today but not an air quality alert.

"We're seeing a lot of smoke. It's actually staying up high in the atmosphere at this point and it's from some of the lingering fires going on in California. The Dixie Fire is the biggest one in particular," said Meghan Field, public information officer for the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District.

Field says even though it looked a bit hazy this morning they aren't seeing a big impact on their ground-level monitors, which is why they did not issue an alert.

"We didn't think that there was a need for concern for public health at this point," said Field. "We're always checking air quality conditions, and this morning, we did notice that the smoke was starting to move into our area particularly in the eastern and northern parts of our county, but down near the coastal regions we're still seeing good air quality. We're seeing good to moderate even in those areas that we saw smoke this morning it's already starting to trend downward."

Community members said they didn't notice a significant difference in air quality today and the smoke did not stop them from hiking running or mountain biking outside.

"I always have a hard time telling if it's a foggy day or if it's smokey, but I've been seeing a little bit of ash," said SLO resident Keegan Johnson.

"No, it just felt like a perfect weekly ride," said SLO resident Alexander Cohen.

"I haven't really noticed any smoke. I thought it was just kind of cloudy today because I've been inside most of the day but I guess knowing it's smokey I could definitely see that now," said SLO resident Victoria Rund.

Pediatrician Dr. Rene Bravo explained that when there is smoke in the air, it's important for people to check current weather conditions, especially people who have asthma.

"I think the most important thing people can do to protect themselves during fire season in terms of smoke inhalation is to be aware of the conditions around them and if they're starting to feel changes in their lungs a little bit wheezy, a little bit short of breath, go inside, calm down, get a glass of water but stay inside," said Bravo.

The SLO County Air Pollution Control District's website contains information on how to get your home and family ready for when smoke is in the air, and a six-day forecast showing what air quality you can expect throughout the week.