FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Californians were urged to ride their bike, take the bus, and limit activities that create air pollution as part of the state’s annual Clean Air Day.

Blue skies over Fresno were a refreshing sight on Wednesday after weeks of anything but clean air.

“We are also seeing a lot of patients who have never had problems before,” explained allergist Dr. Malik Baz.ADVERTISING

Dr. Baz says air pollution triggers asthma and other respiratory issues. 

According to data from the Population Reference Bureau, Tulare and Kings County have the highest percentage of children diagnosed with asthma.

Tulare at 32.7% and Kings at 28.4 percent– much higher than the state’s 14.3%.

“Proper diagnosis is very important and once the proper diagnosis is made make sure you get the appropriate medical help, whether it be from a family doctor or allergist,” said Dr. Baz.

Those at risk include the young, the old, and the vulnerable.  

Research by the environmental protection agency shows communities of color are more exposed to particulate matter based on where they live or work. It’s not all doom and gloom.

“The overall outlook for the San Joaquin Valley is very positive,” said Heather Heinks with the Valley Air District.

While more needs to be done, Dr. Baz and Heinks agree progress has been made to reduce air pollution in the Valley, on the local, state, and federal levels. 

“We are 30 years into policy, decisions, and funding that has helped billions of dollars to come into the valley to invest in cleaner technology to help businesses and residents reduce their emissions output,” Heinks explained.

Until then, you can protect yourself by staying indoors in a filtered air environment, change the filters often, and wear an N95 mask.