Tuesday , June 25 2024

Unhealthy air

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN – ABC30) —
A fifth straight day of “very unhealthy” air is raising concerns of long-term health damage for people in the Valley.

A gray haze lingered over Highway 41 late into the afternoon. In Downtown Fresno, it cast a pall over the city’s tribute to veterans. And at the allergist’s office, it’s causing a traffic jam.

“There have been days we had to turn the patients away because physically we could not see them,” said allergist Dr. A.M. Aminian.

Dr. Aminian says he’s seeing a lot more patients with respiratory symptoms. And as the Valley marked a fifth straight very unhealthy air day, the health problems could be long lasting.

“One issue of air pollution and affecting respiratory problems could lead to many other chronic illnesses,” he said.

“The air quality is very poor and we’re going to continue to see these conditions,” said ABC30 meteorologist Shelby Latino during our midday newscast.

Latino has tracked the pollution over the last week. She says high pressure is trapping the stable, cooler, and dirty air we’re all breathing.

“Until we can get a system that’s going to come through, shake things up, kind of mix up the air so we have some turbulence in our air, we’re not going to see things really get better,” she said.

That could happen later this week, but Shelby says the bad air could easily last another week.

Exactly how bad is the air? Fresno’s air quality index was forecast to hit 157 Tuesday. Notoriously polluted Beijing was at just 15. But Shanghai and New Delhi have it worse than us.

Scientists in Asia have estimated extended exposure to that type of pollution is taking up to three years off people’s lives. Dr. Aminian says long term effects are also showing up here.

“Adults are not as resilient as children, so they may end up with something like COPD even though they haven’t smoked,” he said.

Wearing a mask — like you often see in Asia — can help a little. But the best way to protect yourself is to just stay indoors.

Dr. Aminian says you also need to protect the air in your home. Cut down on burning wood or using fragrances, and make sure you have the best, new air filters you can afford.

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