With wildfires, unhealthful air widespread in Southland

With wildfires, unhealthful air widespread in Southland

16 November 2008

published by www.latimes.com

USA — As wildfires flared across Southern California this weekend, health officials issued air-quality warnings and told residents to avoid areas where they could smell and see smoke.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District said there would be unhealthful air quality today across Orange County and in many parts of Los Angeles County, including downtown Los Angeles.

 Other areas predicted to have unhealthful air quality are the San Fernando Valley, the South Bay area including Long Beach, the Corona/Norco area, the Chino Hills area, parts of the San Gabriel Mountains near the Sayre Fire, and the northwest Los Angeles County coastal area.

It’s predicted that Santa Ana winds responsible for spreading many of the flames will weaken today, but the winds will “continue to bring smoke across Los Angeles and Orange counties,” according to the district’s website.

Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the district, said they had deployed portable air monitors to some areas near the wildfires to collect more accurate data as the blazes continued to spread. Atwood said the district’s index, which measures air quality on a scale from zero to 500, computes the mass of tiny flying particulates per cubic meter.
 Los Angeles County public health officials also warned residents this weekend to take precautions and advised that some sports organizations, notably youth leagues, cancel weekend games.

Several sports events across the region were canceled since the air-quality warnings began, including the Pasadena Marathon, which was scheduled to be run today.

Some other tips from Los Angeles County officials to help cope with bad air:

* Avoid unnecessary outdoor activity.

* Do not use fireplaces, candles or vacuums.

* When indoors, keep windows and doors closed. Air conditioners can remove particles from the air, but if residents do not have an air-conditioning unit and are getting too hot, they should consider going somewhere with air conditioning. The county warns residents not to use air conditioners that draw in air only from the outside and do not have a recirculating option.

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