Bad air affecting health of new group

Air officials: the worst winter air in a decade

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - All you need to do is just look up to see the bad air we've been taking in every day.

"I just have to be outside doing something. I know they say it's unhealthy but I can't sit still," said bicyclist Jason Knaggs.

Knaggs is like so many others you can find on the bike trail who ignore the bad air quality warnings. But he said he can definitely feel the effects.

"I find myself coughing and I'm a healthy guy. I find myself coughing if I exercise in the afternoon,” said Knaggs.

That's exactly what health experts are finding, healthy adults who have no respiratory problems are now suffering.

"Once you get up into the higher levels of bad air quality the unhealthy range, not only for sensitive groups but above that then you start seeing problems with the healthy people," said Dr. Joshua Tobias of San Joaquin Community Hospital. "That can include a cough, sore throat and even problems breathing if you are doing a high activity exercise."

This is really no surprise to air quality officials. Heather Heinks of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said this is the worst winter air they've seen in a decade.

"Had we not seen these stagnant conditions and the lack of meteorology this winter, we probably would have had the best winter on record," said Heinks.

There is an easy way you can keep track of the air quality by going to the Valley Air District's website and clicking on the Real Time Air Advisory Network link or RAAN .

"We have the ability to give the public hourly air quality information to let them know the level of particulate matter that they would experience if they went outside and heed that information," said Heinks.

Ignoring that information now could lead to permanent damage later, according to Tobias.

"It is very serious because you'll see this long term in people's lives. The initial part of it is temporary, but constant exposure to bad air does lead to an increase in asthma or respiratory problems."

While we are at the mercy of Mother Nature Heinks said you can play a role by recognizing no burn days, not idling your car and ditching your wheels for a walk when you can.



Erin Briscoe co-anchors Good Morning Kern County on 23ABC from 5am until 7am. Like Erin's Facebook page here or follow her on Twitter .





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