Friday, October 10, 2008

High winds prompt air quality watch


High winds throughout Santa Barbara County yesterday prompted the Public Health Department to issue an air quality watch after elevated levels of particles were recorded in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.
An air quality watch is issued when there is potential for poor air quality in some areas of the county, a statement from the Health Department said.

According to the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District Web site, which prints hourly updates on the county’s air quality, unhealthy levels of particles jumped significantly in the early afternoon yesterday.
The Web site showed particle levels at 1 p.m. were relatively low at 24. They jumped to 59 an hour later, then skyrocketed to 325 at 3 p.m. and 363 at 4 p.m. The Web site says particle levels of 150 or higher are considered unhealthy for some groups.
The kind of particles measured, the Web site shows, are fine minerals, metal, soot, smoke and dust particles. Such particles, when found at high enough concentrations, can permanently lodge in the deepest and most sensitive areas of the lung, the Web site says, and can aggravate respiratory illnesses like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
The Health Department urged anyone living in areas where the air is visibly choked with dust or particles to be cautious.
More information about the county’s air quality is available at, or by calling 805-961-8802.

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