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Asthmatic Kids at Risk in San Joaquin Valley

This post originally appeared in KQED’s NewsFix on November 1, 2011.

Water polo tournament at Fresno's Sunnyside High goes on, despite air quality so poor that school districts are supposed to cancel outdoor activities. (Photo: Sasha Khokha)

Water polo tournament at Fresno's Sunnyside High goes on, despite air quality so poor that school districts are supposed to cancel outdoor activities. (Photo: Sasha Khokha)

Today, KQED’s Sasha Khokha outlines how the lack of effective air monitoring policy in the San Joaquin Valley could be harming the people who live there. As she reports, a recent study from UCSF Fresno and CSU Fresno [PDF] finds a direct link between air pollution and asthma-related ER visits. The study found what researchers call a “linear association” between certain components of air pollution and asthma ER visits. In other words, as air pollution goes up, the likelihood of an asthmatic child heading to the ER goes up, too.

The San Joaquin Valley has some of the dirtiest air in the country and high rates of childhood asthma.

As air pollution goes up, the likelihood of an asthmatic child heading to the ER goes up, too.
 The culprits are two components of air pollution: ground-level ozone and particulate matter. Ground-level ozone can have corrosive effects on the lungs, decreasing lung function. Particulate matter are tiny particles, like soot.  The simple act of breathing carries these particles deep into the lungs where they stick and can cause breathing and heart problems.

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