Heat and Haze Create Fresno Health Risks

July 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A closer look at how the heat is impacting the air we breathe.Air quality specialists say sometimes when it gets this hot, it can actually improve our air quality- but that hasn't happened so far.

A brown haze is hovering over the valley. One dangerous element to our air is ozone. Extreme heat helps these dangerous gasses rise up from ground level and higher into the sky. But on Tuesday, there were no winds to push them out of the valley.

"What we saw this afternoon was basically that the ozone was lifting off faster earlier in the day so that was showing us is that as we were hitting that maximum heating is that the ozone was actually leaving quicker," said Shawn Ferreria with the Air Pollution Control District.

Shawn Ferreria is a meteorologist who studies air in the Valley every day. He said poor readings are popping up more often around the area. "One of our monitors in Clovis was actually showing these elevated ozone readings. We're now starting to see it happening a little bit off of the metropolitan area down in the Parlier area."

Doctor Bill Ebbeling said the combination of heat and bad air can be a dangerous mix. He's telling every patient to stay indoors as much as possible. "This excessive heat is like working in an oven. You'll bake and it can cause all kinds of problems with the enzyme systems of the body. Ozone can damage the lung tissue itself and the particulate matter may go all the way through into the bloodstream and lodge into the body." With only light hot breezes expected Wednesday, air quality is also predicted to stay in the very unhealthy category.

Meteorologists say the best thing that could happen to end this bad air streak is for a weather disturbance to create conditions that would blow this polluted air out of here. Unfortunately, that's not in the near forecast.
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