Hodge podge of Labor-Day-related air quality issues

It’s Labor Day 2017.

In Fresno, it’s been hot. Hot would be an understatement and air here, well, bad doesn’t even begin to describe how bad here (in Fresno, California; not Fresno, Texas or Fresno, Ohio) air has been. I remember accessing the Real-Time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) tool, accessible on the Web site of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. In fact, on one recent visit, according to information displayed, the concentration of ozone pollution present in the air in the Fresno County community of Clovis, reached 103 parts per billion, definitely well within the “Unhealthy” (for-everyone-exposed-to) range. And, I’ve been regularly tuning into the local news reports on television for the purpose of supplementing the air-quality related information I have been getting by accessing the Valley air district’s Web site. Any and all of which has indeed been helpful.

In viewing one of the local T.V. news reports, I recall listening to the words of one of the area’s football coaches (I won’t say which one) who assured he was keeping a close eye on conditions. I remember him emphasizing that the primary consideration was players keeping well hydrated. That takes into consideration temperature only. I don’t recollect the coach remarking about the poor quality of air. Well, that was a missed opportunity in my book, as far as I’m concerned, in this particular instance, the air being given short shrift or so it would appear. I mean, after all, doesn’t survival also depend on the air we breathe and not just on the water (liquid) we imbibe?

As well I heard on the locally broadcasted T.V. news advice, yes, advice about staying indoors and refraining from outdoor exercise under the conditions where the air pollution is as pronounced as it is right now. The message that such conveys to me at least is that air quality indoors must be healthier than that which is outside, otherwise, I feel, that advice of this sort would not have much merit. And it presumes windows and doors are in the closed position. However, in situations where by use of air conditioning units outside air is drawn indoors, then being inside in terms of the quality of air being breathed, might not provide much benefit.

If you’ve been regularly following the latest Air Quality Matters blog postings, you may have noticed I’ve put up 13 posts last month. That’s an average of almost one post every two days. What this should tell you is that I’ve been indoors a lot myself, researching and writing. I tried to stay indoors and limit my time outside in the lung-searing air as little as possible. I’ve also kept window shades and curtains drawn to try to cut down on energy usage related to the sweltering heat we are suffering with right now.

In fact, in speaking with an acquaintance on the phone this morning, much to the person on the other end of the conversation’s surprise, I informed the person listening that I haven’t ventured outside my home much lately at all. That this discussion came up at all was because we had been on the subject of the jump in gas prices on account of Hurricane Harvey hitting the Gulf Coast region and refining activity being negatively affected because of this. I was asked if I noticed the rise in the price of fuel. To which I replied that I hadn’t because the fact of the matter is, that I haven’t ventured out lately. As an aside, in reading yesterday’s newspaper, I notice we are heading for a cool-down and with that drop in temperatures, hopefully, will come air quality improvement.

I am so looking forward to the times of the year when the sky and air clear some and I can be outside again. To go with that, it is nice to be able to discern the clouds from the haze for a change.

Which reminds me, a few years back one of the local television network companies was relocating from an area on the west side of town to north central Fresno. And, related to the studio relocation was the construction of a brand new television antenna; a multi-story-high television transmission tower. And, I can remember reading a letter in The Fresno Bee that to the writer who submitted the letter the tower was an eyesore. All because in the letter writer’s mind’s eye, this particular structure was going to block the Sierra Nevada mountain range (a small portion thereof if you want to get real) from the letter writer’s view.

My jaw just about dropped to the floor when I read this letter. Either that or I laughed out loud or both: Was this person serious?! Complaining about an antenna blocking from view, what, a small sliver at most of a mountain range, a mountain range that can’t be seen from town anyway much of the time because of a grayish-brownish haze that permeates the air? Just goes to show what’s important to some people.

And, finally, with all the pollution in the air as of late, we in the Valley were treated (if you want to call it that) to a few of those eye-catching, attention grabbing yellow-ball-in-the-sky sunsets; you know the kind I’m talking about that occurs on account of smog in the air, a phenomenon I know we’d be well, or at least, better off doing without.

A solar eclipse this was not.

That all said, I am so looking forward to a hopefully much more air-quality favorable Labor Day weekend next year.

– Alan Kandel