SMOG ALERT: WILL NOT BE ISSUED ON RED FLAG DAY

Is Health of High School Athletes at Clovis Track Meet in Jeopardy?

FRESNO – Temperatures and smog levels will soar together this afternoon throughout the San Joaquin Valley, but the worst conditions are predicted for the Fresno-Clovis metropolitan area, home to a statewide track meet today of high school athletes from throughout California.

“It’s a red flag day in Fresno County and an orange flag day in every other valley county,” said Kevin Hall, director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, Fresno. “That means for at least eight hours today smog levels will be at dangerous levels and sometime during the afternoon in we will see peak levels well above the 150 reading on the air quality index. We’re calling every media outlet in the valley to check air pollution levels for their area today and consider issuing special warnings to the public.”

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will not be issuing any emergency warnings during this high pollution episode. Last year the district governing board set in place a policy to focus on a “pocketbook” strategy of warnings tied to an outdated smog standard that has triggered federal sanctions on valley businesses and motorists. The board also eliminated its Spare the Air Day warning program three years ago.

“The Valley Air Board policy puts profits ahead of people’s health. How many children and teenagers through the Valley will be at risk this afternoon?” asked Hall. “The Central Valley Air Quality Coalition strongly urges the media to inform the general public as best they can today about the serious risks posed by these high levels of smog.”

Hourly pollution levels at every county-specific air pollution monitor in the valley can be viewed at the official website of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, www.valleyair.org, at the RAAN link (Real-time Air AdvisoryNetwork). However, as of 9 a.m. today the entire website appears to be down for maintenance purposes and it is unclear if the RAAN system will be operational.

“Protecting the health of our valley’s four million residents is the issue today,” said Hall. “And it’s critically important to remember that the Air Quality Index orange flag level is an eight-hour average with peak levels in the red and possibly purple levels when outdoor activities must be curtailed or stopped.”

Details on outdoor activity guidelines are available at the American Lung Association website.

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