Mild weather contributes to bad Valley air

Bad Air Quality
January 17, 2014 6:36:51 AM PST
Coming off an historic year for air quality in the San Joaquin Valley, officials say the start of this year is causing concern. There has been hazy skies and a rise in allergies around the Valley -- and the National Weather Service has issued a red flag day for the Southern Sierra Nevada due to the dry conditions.

The haze over the San Joaquin Valley is a constant sight in the skyline. This winter, the Valley has had 38 days where pollution levels exceeded the standards. Last year we had just 16 at the same time.

Heather Heinks with the San Joaquin Valley Air Control District says this winter, the weather is having a big impact on the pollution levels.

"The concentrations in the air are considerably worse not because we're necessarily emitting more," said Heinks. "Without wind movement, an inversion level and no rain, everything we emit -- anything coming out of the back end of a car, anything coming out of a wood burning fire -- anything we emit is going to stay in the atmosphere around us and increase the density of that pollution."

But the Valley isn't the only area suffering from bad air. Sacramento and the Bay Area have both had twice as many no burn days this year compared to last, and we're only half way through the season.

The San Joaquin Valley Air District says despite the air quality, no burn days are making a difference. The proof came last November, when the board announced it had zero violations for air quality in 2013. "Without the conditions we've seen this winter, we would have had the cleanest winter on record, with all the pollution levels we've seen decline," said Heinks.

As the bad air continues, officials are encouraging residents to check before they burn and be mindful of emissions when planning to drive.

While air board officials say local residents are doing their part to reduce pollution, for now, mother nature has a grip over the Valley.


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