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Wildfire Smoke, Ozone Hampering Mojave Desert Air Quality

PHOTO: Don Fish Jr. - 4newsplus.com

From Phelan looking towards Hesperia & Victorville. Usually you can see the Deep Creek and on to Lucern Valley.

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Until further notice, the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District has issued an Air Quality Advisory for the area. The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD) is advising poor air quality is likely to continue this week due to wildfire smoke impacts and high levels of ground-level ozone concentration. This advisory is in effect for all of the MDAQMD jurisdiction.

The South fire, which broke out Wednesday afternoon near Fontana and Interstate 15, had burned hundreds of acres as of Thursday morning. Strong winds were pushing smoke and ash from that incident into the High Desert in San Bernardino County on Wednesday, quickly hampering ambient air quality.

Regulated air quality monitors this week have shown measurable increases in PM2.5, the pollutant found in wildfire smoke, and ground-level ozone. The increase in PM2.5 levels prior to the start of the South fire is attributable to smoke drifting from ongoing wildfires burning in Northern California. Smoke forecasts indicate smoke from the Northern California and South incidents drifting into and impacting MDAQMD air quality at least over the next 24 to 48 hours and may persist longer.

The air quality forecast issued Thursday for the proceeding 24 to 36 hours showed air quality ranging from Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (orange) to Unhealthy (red) throughout MDAQMD. Levels of PM2.5 may continue to increase depending on fire containment and shifting winds, contributing to ground-level ozone concentrations. Further, much of California is expected to see another heatwave this week, potentially exacerbating ground-level ozone and decreasing air quality.

Increasing levels of smoke or ground-level ozone can affect everyone, but it’s particularly unhealthy for those with heart and respiratory illnesses, children, seniors and active adults.

In any area impacted by poor air quality including smoke:

  • everyone should avoid any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion;
  • people with respiratory or heart disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors;
  • keep windows and doors closed;
  • run your air conditioner if you have one – recirculation function is ideal;
  • avoid using a swamp cooler or whole-house fan to prevent bringing outdoor pollutants inside.

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