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Morro Bay residents dealing with 'very unhealthy' air quality, air purifiers sold out

Posted at 6:43 PM, Sep 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 23:58:36-04

People in Morro Bay are used to the fog, but a different kind of gray cloud is sending people to buy air purifiers and N-95 masks.

Over the last couple of days, air quality has worsened in Morro Bay due to West Coast wildfires and Monday marked the peak of the air pollution so far.

“Very unhealthy” levels were recorded in Morro Bay, Los Osos, Cambria, Cayucos, and San Simeon, according to the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (SLO APCD).

“It's been pretty bad. I’ve had an itchy throat, eyes watering, every once in a while it gets in your throat and you can feel it,” said Jacob Lethin, Morro Bay resident.

Morro Bay saw the worst air quality in all of SLO County Monday with an Air Quality Index of 260 midday.

“We were really seeing those [smoke] impacts in the northern parts of our county, so Paso Robles and Atascadero area. Now, the winds have shifted and the fires have changed and it's brought the smoke in a few different directions, so it can be very localized,” said Meghan Field, SLO APCD Air Quality Specialist.

Conditions are not much better elsewhere. Unhealthy levels are being reported in San Luis Obispo, the Five Cities area, and Nipomo.

N-95 masks and air purifiers are flying off the shelves at Miner's Ace Hardware.

“We just received a huge order about a week and a half ago, two weeks ago, and sold out within two days,” said Ruben Dixon, Assistant Manager at the Miner's Ace Hardware in Morro Bay.

Dixon expects to get more air purifiers sometime next week, but there are other ways to create clean air in your home.

“Folks are taking box fans, for instance, and taking a forced-air heater filter and taping that to the back of the box fan so they can run the air through that and catch certain particulates,” Dixon said.

Here are some tipson improving indoor air quality in your home:

  • Avoid or reduce candle, incense and woodburning
  • Close windows and doors
  • Turn on the range hood when cooking, especially when using a gas stove or avoid cooking during spikes in particulate matter events
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter in your HVAC system

"We are hoping that it's a peak and that it starts to trend downward, but again meteorological conditions kind of dictate that and it's kind of hard to predict what might happen," Field said.

At this time, there are no recommended outdoor restrictions from SLO County air specialists.