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San Luis Obispo Co. experiencing air quality issues due to smoke, dust

Posted at 6:55 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 22:53:08-04

Even though major wildfires and dust storms may be hundreds of miles away, San Luis Obispo County hasn't been immune to bad air quality, mostly because of strong winds.

According to the Air Pollution Control District, good air conditions can change in an instant, making it important for people to have their eyes on the sky.

Fine particulate matter is an air pollutant. When levels are high, so is the concern for people's health and cities in San Luis Obispo County are seeing the effects.

"Just a very dirty haze," said Jedebra Henson, Paso Robles resident.

"We just happened to notice that the haze, there seemed to be more of it," said Mike Peck, Paso Robles resident.

Residents in Paso Robles were feeling and seeing the poor air quality firsthand, prompting them to make some changes to their everyday routines.

"We were driving, so I turned on my re-circulation button in the car so that we were breathing inside air opposed to breathe all of the outdoor air, and then we just went home and stayed inside," Henson said.

KSBY Chief Meteorologist Dave Hovde knows why the Central Coast is being impacted, and it's not just because of the fires.

"When you're talking about poor air quality, it's not just fire smoke. When you have Santa Ana winds like we have, it kicks up dust as well. It's been dry for months everywhere in California, so you get the dust, you get the smoke, a lot of the dust blows in from the Central Valley when we have a really high inversion, and it all comes here to the Central Coast," Hovde said.

Conditions can change in a matter of hours, and certain levels of air quality can be safe for most but harmful for others.

"The levels that we are seeing right now are moderate and so that's getting up there where people that have existing heart or lung conditions might need to take preventative measures for themselves, go inside, not do strenuous activity," said Meghan Field, Air Quality Specialist for the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District

Hovde says better air quality will be on the way with time and as the winds begin to calm down.

The Air Pollution Control District encourages people to be aware of what the air conditions are in their area.

If you are seeing smoke or ash, it's important that you go inside to be safe.