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August 19, 2014

Smoke from Junction fire in Oakhurst prompts health caution

Smoke from the Junction fire in Oakhurst is affecting air quality in Madera County and may impact more Valley counties, local air officials said Monday.

Smoke from the Junction fire in Oakhurst is affecting air quality in Madera County and may affect Merced and other Valley counties, air officials said Tuesday.

As weather conditions change, smoke impacts may be felt in Fresno, Stanislaus, Tulare and Kings, as well. Smoke may periodically affect these counties until the fire is extinguished, officials said.

Smoke can send pollution to the Valley floor, including particulates and ozone precursors, setting off a health caution.

Smoke from fire is mainly particulate matter that can be harmful to public health. Particulate matter can lodge deep in the lungs, causing illnesses such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, as well as lung infections.

Air officials warned that people with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people should keep away from smoky areas, as they are especially susceptible to health effects from these pollutants.

Air district officials urge residents to follow their doctor’s orders when exposed to wildfire pollutants.

For more information about current wildfires and their impacts on the Valley, residents can check the Valley Air District’s wildfire page at www.valleyair.org/wildfires.

The district also provides the Real-Time Air Advisory Network at www.valleyair.org/RAAN, an automated reporting system that delivers data directly to users’ computers.

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