Air board promotes children’s calendar contest, fails to warn public of serious health risks

  • WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • WHERE: Central Valley Air Quality Coalition 
    1316 E. Olive Ave. (at San Pablo), Fresno

On Tuesday, San Joaquin Valley residents suffered through this year’s first violations of the federal one-hour ozone standard. Air pollution monitoring stations reported separate violations in the City of Fresno and in the rural Fresno County community of Parlier located 20 miles downwind of the metropolitan area.

“The smog cloud that formed over southeast Fresno Tuesday afternoon had an ozone reading of 127 ppb from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and grew in intensity as it moved toward Parlier where a staggering 134 ppb was recorded from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. “While we can’t lose sight of the eight-hour ozone standard, these peak one-hour levels are also of serious concern to public health advocates,” said Kevin Hall, director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is mandated by federal law to attain both standards.

“Smog levels throughout the central and southern valley are consistently reaching health-damaging levels for eight hours or more, and very high afternoon peak levels are lasting for several hours. If these were tornadoes, the sirens would be sounding for everyone to take cover indoors. The one-hour peak reading is simply the eye of a major smog storm preceded and followed by hours of dangerous exposure levels.”

Damage to human health begins at 75 ppb; levels above 85 ppb for eight continuous hours violate the eight-hour standard, and levels above 125 ppb for a single hour are a violation of the one-hour standard. This year’s previous one-hour high of 124 ppb was set on Sept. 7 in Southeast Fresno.? ?Of grave concern to health advocates is the valley air board’s failure to actively warn the public of the specific health impacts and risks during this especially dangerous period.

“The air board’s message to the public has been focused on ending financial sanctions rather than protecting our kids’ health. We have had reports of youth sports teams’ afternoon practices happening throughout the region,” said Hall. “Today the valley air board learned they had failed on the financial front, and rather than turning to public health and issuing urgent warnings, they chose to send out a reminder about a kids’ calendar contest. Such a serious disconnect at this time of crisis reveals how disingenuous the air board’s public information effort has become. It’s an abysmal failure of leadership.”