Update 12:45 p.m.: Air quality went from bad to worse in Fresno and Clovis Friday, as the air quality index moved from unhealthy in the morning to very unhealthy by noon.
The AQI in Fresno reached 239 due to high winds blowing dust and smoke. Anything above 150 is considered unhealthy for everyone.
Air quality is unhealthy for everyone in Fresno and Clovis on Friday as gusts of high winds from the northwest blow dust and wildfire smoke across the San Joaquin Valley.
Because of the health risk, the Valley Air District issued an air quality alert for Friday and Saturday, directing residents to remain indoors to avoid exposure to particle pollution.
The federal air quality index Friday morning was 152 in Fresno. Anything above 150 is considered unhealthy for everyone with the potential to trigger asthma attacks, aggravate chronic bronchitis, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Cloth and paper masks used to reduce the spread of COVID-19 do not protect from particulate matter pollution.
The air quality elsewhere in Madera, Visalia and Tulare is unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children, the elderly and people with lung and heart problems. Exposure to PM 2.5 or PM 10 – particles smaller than a human hair – can cause permanent damage to developing lungs in children.
PM 2.5 will continue to be a problem in the region until the SQF Complex Fire and Tulare County and Creek Fire in Madera and Fresno counties are extinguished.
HOW TO CHECK NEIGHBORHOOD-LEVEL AIR QUALITY
Air quality can be different across neighborhoods in the same town because of wind patterns and proximity to agricultural operations and other sources of pollution, like freeways with heavy truck traffic.
Four different tools provide helpful information.
The San Joquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’ RAAN search tool provides real-time data on smog and PM 2.5 by entering an address in the search bar. You can also sign up to receive air quality alerts. The tool does not currently provide PM 10 data, which staff said may change by the end of the year.
The airnow.gov interactive map provides real-time data for smog, PM 2.5 and PM 10 from local monitors across the country. It is managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
For more localized neighborhood data, use the PurpleAir.com map that compiles crowd-sourced data from private, consumer monitors. Or, use the similar IQAir.com that pulls data from AirVisual consumer monitors.