Experts worry that recent wildfires could have severe impact on air quality

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Just as blistering heat continues to torch the state, experts say there is a growing concern that multiple wildfires that surround the Central Valley are causing harmful smoke impacts to all local counties.

"We are in a critical position right now and the public definitely needs to be aware of the air quality," said San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District official Heather Heinks.

Officials with the Air Pollution Control District are warning residents about the potential dangers associated with spending an extended amount of time outdoors.

Those with sensitive conditions including heart disease, asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases should remain indoors as much as possible.

"There are people around you that you might want to check on. The elderly, young populations, old populations but in general, anybody with a respiratory condition is susceptible to the impacts of wildfire smoke and even a healthy individual should try at all cost to avoid it and stay inside," Heinks said.

While self-isolation and social distancing remain a concern due to the coronavirus, experts warn that most face coverings do little to prevent particulate matter in our atmosphere from entering the body.

"The PM 2.5 that's in smoke are tiny microscopic particles that you inhale. They go right through the mask you wear to prevent COVID. Unfortunately, they're so small that you can inhale them, they go through your lungs and into your bloodstream and can have adverse impacts to your health."

Experts say there are minor adjustments you can do at home to keep your family safe.

"What you should do is protect yourself. Keep in mind the basic principles of changing your air filter in both your car and home, staying hydrated and checking on the elderly. Looking for ways to keep an eye on those that are more vulnerable in this situation."

While rolling blackouts and the threat of additional outages are complicating the situation, the Valley Air app can alert you when your area is seeing dangerous levels in the atmosphere.
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