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Worst air quality seen in years thanks to wildfire smoke trapped in Kern County

Posted at 10:43 AM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 14:02:43-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — We're staying smoky out there for the day ahead, with some of the worst air quality we've seen in years thanks to all this wildfire smoke trapped in Kern County. Valley air quality remains unhealthy for all with bad air quality in the mountains too. You can't even go out to the desert or over to the coast, as dense smoke is trapped everywhere.

A slight westerly breeze today brings more smoke to Kern County, but we won't have winds strong enough to clear out the bad air until at least early next week, so an air quality alert stays in effect and it's recommended you stay inside for the next several days and avoid exposing your lungs to this dangerous particle pollution.

Our partners at the Valley Air District say if you can smell smoke and see ash, that is an indication that you should be treating air quality conditions as RAAN Level 4 or 5 and take the following steps to limit your exposure:

  1. Limit your outdoor activities, especially children and people with chronic heart and lung diseases.
  2. Remain inside air conditioned buildings. Note: If you do not have an air conditioner, staying inside with the windows closed may be dangerous in extremely hot weather. In these cases, seek alternative shelter.
  3. If you have asthma or other lung diseases, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
  4. If you are an older adult, have children, or if you have heart or lung diseases, talk with your doctor about whether you should leave the area.

Please note: Smoke is a mixture of gases and fine (microscopic) particles that can cause health problems. The RAAN monitors are designed to detect these fine particles. Ash pieces, however, are much larger in size and will not be detected. If an area is covered in ash, air quality should be considered a RAAN Level 4 or higher, even if the monitor reflects a lower reading.