Region shows rising number of unhealthy air days

  • WHO: Central Valley Air Quality Coalition
  • WHAT: Media Availability
  • WHERE: Wasco – contact Tom Frantz, 661-910-7734
    Fresno – CVAQ office, 1316 E. Olive (southwest corner of Olive and San Pablo, Fresno)
    WHEN: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2011  

The official close of summer last week brought to an end the smoggiest summer season in five years for San Joaquin Valley residents, according to the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition. Based on data from the valley air board website, the summer season beginning on June 21 and ending Sept. 23 shows an alarming trend of increasing numbers of unhealthy air days valley-wide, and pollution levels in hotspots such as Clovis in Fresno County, Three Rivers in Tulare County and Maricopa in Kern County have led to steep increases in the number of unhealthy air days. 

  “This is very bad news for our kids, our seniors, people with asthma or heart disease, and anyone who works outside,” said Sarah Sharpe, environmental health director for Fresno Metro Ministry and chair of the CVAQ Steering Committee. “Our air board members are failing to clean the air, and they are failing to warn people of the dangers.”  

  In the three summer months of 2007, 37 days out of 95 showed unhealthy levels of smog valley-wide. That number climbed to 57 this year. Clovis went from 5 such days in summer 2007 to 22 for the summer months just ended. Three Rivers went from 30 to 48; Maricopa climbed from 6 to 10. “And we’re not done yet,” said Kevin Hall, director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition. “The valley’s official smog season lasts until October 31, so it’s important that people are aware of the pollution and risks. Things are getting worse instead of better.”  

  The valley’s most infamous hotspot, the Arvin-Bear Mountain monitor, was not included in the Coalition’s calculations, because it was removed this year. “The valley air board would love to include the old readings,” said Kern County resident Tom Frantz, “in order to show a false drop created by removal of the monitor. If the air board wants to claim they’re making progress, they must first return the Arvin monitor to Bear Mountain. We need consistent, reliable, long-term data.”  

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  The Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, Fresno, Calif., is a partnership of more than 70 community, medical, public health, environmental and environmental justice organizations representing thousands of residents in the San Joaquin Valley unified in their commitment to improve the health of Californians.