KQED Story Prompts Improved Health Alerts?

Children's park located under a freeway in Fresno.  (Photo: Sasha Khokha)

Children's park located under a freeway in Fresno. (Photo: Sasha Khokha)

Yesterday morning, KQED brought you Sasha Khokha’s report questioning how well the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is protecting public health on poor air quality days.

About 10 hours later, the Valley Air District issued an air quality alert using significantly stronger language than it had used previously.

Coincidence?

A little background: Khokha reported that the Valley Air District’s public service announcements had focused on what people could do to reduce emissions, but had not alerted the public how to protect their health on poor air quality days.

For example, the District issued a PSA on September 29, 2011, a day when the air quality was in the “unhealthy for all” category. Among other things, the District recommended people walk or bicycle instead of drive their cars. Now, this is great for reducing emissions, but anyone who followed this advice could have harmed their lungs. Not exactly a great public health message.

Yesterday afternoon, a few hours after Khokha’s report aired, the District again faced a day with poor air quality.  But this time, the District issued a very different kind of alert. Public health recommendations are quite clear:

People with heart or lung diseases should follow their doctors’ advice for dealing with episodes of unhealthy air quality. Additionally, older adults and children should avoid prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged exposure, strenuous activities or heavy exertion.

A quick check of the Valley District’s Real-TIme Air Quality Advisory Network showed that the air quality, at least in Central Fresno, is in the “good” zone this morning.

 

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