San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issues health caution due to potential Dixie Fire smoke

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issues health caution due to potential Dixie Fire smoke

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(KTXL) — The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health caution as smoke from the Dixie Fire could move into the San Joaquin Valley. 

On Thursday, the sky was not as hazy as Wednesday and the smell of smoke was not in the air. 

“Today, we’re going to do some outdoor activities. We’re going to do some sprinting; we’re going do some jumping, some bounding, some testing evaluation,” said Les Anthony II.

For fitness coach Anthony II and his clients, the potential for wind to bring in smoke means they would have to change their plans. 

“Down south they have hurricanes, in the Midwest has tornadoes, out here in California we have wildfires,” Anthony II said. 

Officials warn days with blue skies can still have bad air quality

A shift in the winds pushed smoke from the fire south and prompted a health caution for San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties. 

“The way our valley is situated, we’re like a bowl, and so we’re surrounded by mountains. So, any type of emissions that occur depending on what kind of pressure system we’re under — and currently, we’re under a high-pressure system which acts like a lid. So, any emissions that are occurring at ground level, they have nowhere to go,” said Cassandra Melching, with the air district. 

Melching says the smoke remains high in the air so the impact is not as great. 

“The smoke is definitely still out there, just not at ground level, and eventually, what goes up must come down,” Melching said. “And, so, we do know that we will continue to be impacted, but we’re just not quite sure when that’s going to happen.”

When it does, Melching says residents will be able to smell the smoke, see the hazy sky and see ash falling, which means air quality could affect people’s health. Smoke pollution can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis and increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke. 

Children, elderly people and people suffering from respiratory conditions, including COVID-19, are especially susceptible to the effects.

“It’s a very harmful pollutant,” Melching said. 

For now, Anthony II will keep training outdoors but says he will continue to monitor the air quality to keep his clients and himself safe and healthy. 

Sacramento Valley residents compare smoky skies to past wildfire years

“I limit the amount of time we’re outside in general, me and my clients. And, so, I pay attention what’s online, and I kind of take a look outside and see how it looks. And if it looks unsafe, then I’ll make adjustments,” Anthony II said. 

According to the air district, the health caution will remain in place until the fire is extinguished or until the smoke can no longer affect the valley. 

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Mark Graham

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