Concerns of clean air advocates at the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition were realized today when initial readings of smog levels in Parlier, Calif., topped 200 on the federal air quality index (AQI) between 5 pm and 6 pm. This peak level far exceeds today’s AQI prediction for Fresno County from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District of 151.
“In other words, in Parlier we went from red and into the purple zone,” said Kevin Hall, CVAQ Director. “And throughout the Valley we experienced unhealthy levels of air pollution that exceeded the current health-based standard. Our Valley Air Board failed to protect people’s health today. They have no effective warning system in place.”
The Valley Air Board’s prediction system for smog levels is based on readings that average the worst eight hours of any day, which masks the peak hours at which people are at highest risk. “Warnings need to be issued when smog levels enter the orange levels of 100 AQI,” said Hall. “That is when human health is being damaged. Instead, our Valley Air Board refuses to act until it is well above 200 AQI, and today they failed to even do that much. It’s unconscionable.”
“We haven’t seen a one-hour ozone violation in June since 2008,” said Hall. “The month of May this year was the worst since 2008, too. It appears we are headed into a long, hot, very smoggy summer. While we wait — and wait and wait — for the Valley Air Board to clean our air, health advocates call on these officials to put in place an effective warning system.”
Of the valley’s 24 smog monitors, 20 violated the eight-hour standard. “From Tracy in San Joaquin County to Arvin in Kern County, from Hanford in Kings County to Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, the alarm should have been sounded today. How many of our valley’s 4 million people were harmed?”
Sources: Real-time Air Advisory Network of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, go here.
California Air Resources Board’s Air Quality and Meteorological System, go here.