Merced air quality 'very unhealthy', residents should avoid outdoor activity

The Fine Particulate Matter measurement has reached Level 5 in the last hour, officials say.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The smoke from various wildfires around the state has been impacting Valley air quality.

Many people in the Valley woke up to find their vehicles covered with ashes. You can blow the ash off but the smoky skies remain.

Merced's particulate matter (PM-2.5) air quality hit Level 5 at noon on Wednesday, which meant everyone should avoid all outdoor activity.

We could even see ash falling from the sky in Mendota.

Dr. Pradeen Buddiga of the Family Allergy Asthma Clinic admitted, "We're going to be in for a pretty rough week."

Dr. Buddiga said the worsening air quality combined with the extreme heat was raising health concerns.

He said, "I'm seeing ash on the cars as well as a lot of patients with eyes tearing and also difficulty breathing and coughing."

Folks in Madera dealt with a thick smoky haze that never cleared up.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said the Hills Fire near Coalinga and the Canyon Fire in Stanislaus County were among the local fires producing smoke, which settled onto the ground overnight.

District spokesperson Heather Heinks said, "It gets cooler and that smoke that we see in the sky all afternoon will settle, so there's a chance you wake up to a strong smoke smell."

Dr. Buddiga displayed a statewide wildfire map from his phone. He said, "It's kind of scary and we're right in the center."

Poor air quality and intense heat couldn't stop people from getting in their exercise outdoors, but Dr. Buddiga recommended people spend as much time as they can indoors.

You can also take some precautions at home.

Dr. Buddiga said, "I would highly recommend keeping their windows closed to prevent that ash and soot and bad air from entering their home."

He also suggested using a nasal rinse and an air purifier to help you breathe easier.
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