Air quality warning issued for Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cooler temperatures over the weekend, combined with uncharacteristic high winds have created a blanket of gray skies across the Central Valley.

"We've got fires happening all around us, we have fires in the north and fires in the south, and then we had this wind event that came through," said Cassandra Melching of San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. "Not only was it smearing all that smoke, but it was bringing in the high levels of dust and dirt."

The thick layer of haze is expected to stick around most of the week.

Officials with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District are anticipating a weather shift that will most likely result in smoke from the Kincade Fire burning in Sonoma County to enter our breathing space by Monday night.

Elevated levels of particulate matter in the air can trigger respiratory distress, particularly in those already affected by breathing issues.

"It's really bad because it's a smaller microgram so you can inhale it. It gets into your lungs. It gets into your bloodstream, and that can cause heart attacks and a whole wealth of problems," Melching said.

RELATED: Kincade Fire grows to 66,000 acres, 5% contained

Many Valley residents woke up Monday complaining of a dry, scratchy throat and burning eyes.

"Usually, when the cold air sets in and I know there's going to be a 10 to 12-degree fall in temperatures, I know I'm going to be busy because that's when the respiratory conditions act up," said Dr. Praveen Buddiga of Family Allergy Asthma Clinic.

Dr. Buddiga's north Fresno clinic was full of families Monday, hoping to get some relief after experiencing trouble breathing related to the poor air quality.

"There's so much dust, there's so much smoke from the fires, there's particulate matter its a perfect storm almost and the cold air which is contracting your lungs," he said.

The air quality warning is expected to last until at least Thursday morning.

Experts warn against outdoor activity when air quality is poor.

As long as these conditions persist, here are some steps you can take to be safe:
  • Stay inside with the windows closed

  • When you do head outdoors, stay as far as you can away from heavily trafficked roads, and do not forget the sunscreen

  • Carpool, group your errands together and try to avoid idling your car

  • Reduce prolonged or heavy exertion
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