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Air quality: See the dusty haze over the Valley? Here’s why.

You’ve probably seen some lingering dust and dirt in the air, after Tropical Storm Hilary brought rain and piles of mud.

With it heating up into the triple digits, that mud has dried up and is now being picked up into the air we breathe.

“So all the rain that we had out in the Coachella Valley, there were some positives and negatives of that rain on air quality," said Dr. Scott Epstein, Program Supervisor for Air Quality Assessment with South Coast Air Quality Management District.

"Rain happens to be a really good way of cleaning air pollution out of the air.... The negative is that that when the mud dries out on the roads, you have vehicles going over, you can re-entrain that dust into the air, and then constantly re-suspend that dust until that gets cleaned up off the road surface," Dr. Epstein said.

He says the dust is a form of air pollution. With the extra dirt and sand being picked up, he says we’re inhaling those particles into our lungs.

For those with health issues, he suggests being extra careful.

"People that have pre-existing heart and lung issues, young children, older adults, or pregnant people need to be extra careful about breathing in high levels of air pollution, the best thing you can do is actually be aware, as you can't always see air pollution," Dr. Epstein added.

"When the air quality is poor in your area, what you want to do is stay inside with the windows and doors closed if you can and run an air conditioner or an air purifier if you have one available. If temperatures allow, you want to not use devices that bring outside air inside such as a swamp cooler or a whole house fan."

For anyone that is working outside, he said to minimize heavy exertion. He said that a well-fitting N95 mask can provide some protection from breathing in particulate matter.

In order to keep track of the air quality, he says South Coast AQMD has ground monitors throughout the Valley.

“Sometimes you look up there could be a layer of say, smoke, that's well up in the air, people, you're not breathing that smoke, you can just see it," Dr. Epstein explained. "So the monitoring data can go a long way in determining kind of what pollutants you would be breathing if it were outside.”

How long could we see this dust in the air?

"It's a bit hard to say. It really depends on how much intervention there is, in terms of cleaning it off the roads,' he said

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.


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