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air pollution

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It was only a few weeks ago that wildfires drove particle pollution to dangerously high levels in many parts of the San Joaquin Valley and mountain areas, and it could happen again before wildfire season is over. Particulate matter, also known as PM, is a major health risk: It’s known to cause asthma attacks and other respiratory flare-ups in the short term, and exposure over the long term has been associated with reduced immune function and cardiovascular problems.

A much-anticipated plan to reduce particulate matter in the San Joaquin Valley is now up for public comment.

After years of revisions, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is seeking public comment on its latest plan to reduce PM2.5, a harmful pollutant that causes respiratory problems and is increasingly being linked to other serious health conditions.

National Weather Service / Cal Fire

Last month the Carr Fire near Redding exploded overnight in what some people have called a "fire-nado" - with extreme rotating winds that toppled high tension power lines and wrapped metal posts around trees. It was the most extreme case of extreme fire behavior people have seen in California in recent times. But with a record-setting stretch of triple digit temperatures, skies filled with smoke, and fires creating their own weather, 2018 has proven to be anything but normal.

Flickr user Anna Irene (Creative Commons)

Mono Lake is one of the jewels of the Eastern Sierra. Its saline waters have created a unique ecosystem, providing habitat for everything from brine shrimp to migratory birds. But for years Mono Lake has had a problem – water diversions made by the City of Los Angeles. They reduced the level of the lake, harming both the ecosystem and creating massive dust clouds. In the mid-1990’s a deal was reached that both the LA Department of Water and Power and conservationists hoped would save the lake, and increase water levels by reducing the diversions.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

When buying a house, everyone’s motivation is different—maybe it’s the desire to start a family, or to start a new job in a new city. Today, we report on a people who move out of the Valley for an entirely different reason—one that’s related to the Valley’s ozone concentrations, which have been creeping higher as the temperature has risen.

Judy Eymann-Taylor is packing. She picks up a gold picture frame leaning against a wall and gingerly cushions it in bubble wrap. “This is a photo that's almost 40 years old now,” she says.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The American Lung Association has released its annual State of the Air report chronicling air pollution throughout the country - and Valley cities still receive failing grades, despite some improvements.

The report ranks pollution levels for the years 2014-2016. Thanks to the Clean Air Act and lower vehicle emissions, particle pollution overall has dropped. Most cities, including those in the San Joaquin Valley, saw fewer days of unhealthy particle pollution compared to previous years.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley struggles with environmental pollution. Hundreds of thousands of residents are served with water that’s unsafe to drink, and all of us live under seasonal clouds ozone and particle pollution in the air. Water and air problems are regulated separately, but one contaminant bridges both domains. This story examines why nitrogen is such a persistent problem.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new public opinion poll from Fresno State indicates that a majority of valley voters would support new anti-air pollution regulations. The survey from the university's Institute for Leadership and Public Policy found that 53 percent of registered voters said they would support more restrictions on residents and businesses to improve air quality in the region. Forty percent of respondents indicated that they would not support more restrictions.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

We all know what a port looks like. There’s water and ships stacked high with shipping containers. But those are often in busy areas on the coast: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland. Well, one Central Valley county has decided to get in on the shipping and distribution game. That county is partnering with the Port of Los Angeles to give their region a boost for distributing around the world.

 

Valley Public Radio

This winter has been an especially bad one for air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.  With long stretches of high particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5), staying informed with accurate info about air quality forecasts and current conditions is important for your health. We took a look at some popular apps for both iOS and Android devices that provide air quality information.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

We’ve been reporting a lot these last few weeks about PurpleAir, a new brand of low-cost, wifi-enabled air monitors that are enabling concerned citizens across the world to crowd-source air quality data. After speaking with public agencies, academics and advocacy groups about the promise of these devices, we were curious: Who created PurpleAir, and how did its product become so popular?

The Valley Air District has issued a health cautionary statement amid a weather pattern that could contribute to another round of elevated particulate pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. The district says stagnant air conditions may result in warmer temperatures, but residents should take care to avoid heavy outdoor activities during periods of elevated particulate matter concentrations. Particulate pollution, which is also known as soot, is harmful and has been correlated with asthma attacks, bronchial infections, heart attacks and stroke.

Ian Faloona, UC Davis

 

When you hear about air pollution, you may think of vehicle emissions, industrial smokestacks and wood burning. But a new study reveals another major source right below your feet in the Central Valley.

The pollutants in question are nitrogen oxides, a family of harmful gases known collectively as NOx. They’re precursors to ozone and particulate matter, which can lead to a litany of short and long-term health problems.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In this age of smart homes and electronic assistants, your appliances can now order refills automatically and you can manage your home security system using an app. But can the so-called “internet of things” be used to solve community problems? Some San Joaquin Valley residents think so: They're trying to address one of the region’s perennial public health problems with a new low-cost device.

Sarah Sharpe / CHAPS

Last week, we brought you a report about the San Joaquin Valley’s recent bout of smoggy air, which in Bakersfield was the longest consecutive episode of unhealthy PM2.5 levels in decades.

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

If you spent time in the San Joaquin Valley over the holidays, the recent rain probably has you breathing a sigh of relief—not just because it’s bringing much needed rain and snow, but also because it’s the first time in weeks you can safely breathe. This story looks back at one of the most severe periods of smoggy air in decades.

When James Collins isn’t studying social work at Fresno State, he drives for the rideshare company Lyft. He sees a lot of open sky and bright sun.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Now that the storm front earlier this week cleaned up the air for much of the San Joaquin Valley, many residents may be looking forward to lighting up their wood-burning fireplaces. However, you might be surprised to learn that some burning was allowed even as air pollution reached dangerously unhealthy levels.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Scientific research has demonstrated that, in general, the richer a person is, the healthier he or she is likely to be. Likewise, those with private insurance tend to be healthier than those on Medi-Cal. A new study, however, suggests neighborhood-level poverty may be even more important.

If you’re a child on Medi-Cal, you’re worse off living in a poor community than an affluent one. That is one of the findings in a new study out this week in the research publication Journal of Asthma.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

If you’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket, you may have been required to attend traffic school. Likewise, cause a scene at work, you may have to take anger management classes. But what if you violate burning restrictions? The local air district runs a different kind of class intended to spark good behavior.

On damp, chilly nights Patrick Smith has a tradition: He builds a fire in his fireplace. Smith lives in northwest Fresno. A gas-powered furnace heats his home, but Smith still thinks of a fire as a gathering place for his family.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Lost in the coverage of the extension of California's cap-and-trade system is another bill that aims to reduce local air pollution in communities like the San Joaquin Valley. AB-617 aims to increase oversight of major stationary sources of pollution that are also regulated by cap-and-trade. Under the law, the state will now make public more data on pollution sources, and local air districts will be required to develop plans to bring these facilities into compliance with the latest available emission control technology.

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