Health experts talk who is most at risk with poor air quality


FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – With the River Fire in Madera and Mariposa counties and the wildfire season, experts are reminding people with asthma and respiratory illnesses to be aware of the air quality.

Throughout the day on Wednesday, the Air Quality app had the air quality in Fresno at level two.

“I can tell if my breathing gets weird or something starts happening. My body lets me know,” said Fresno resident Daniel Booras, who was walking at Woodward Park on Wednesday. 

He added that he’s aware of the impact the fire season can have on the air quality but said he doesn’t have respiratory issues, so it didn’t affect his walk.

But for sensitive groups, experts say even at a level two, it could impact them. 

“As the levels go up, the risk goes higher,” said Dr. John Moua, a pediatric pulmonologist and the UCSF Fresno interim chief Department of Pediatrics. 

Moua reminded people to take precautions, especially during this time of year. 

“We’re right in the prime of some of the wildfires and also the heat, and that’s actually a bad combination,” Moua said. “It increases the ground-level ozone level, smog, in the valley. Fresno and the Valley is a bowl, that stuff just stays here.”

Moua said those with respiratory symptoms should limit the amount of time they spend outside, especially during the afternoons and evenings, adding that pediatric patients, people with chronic lung disease, and older patients above 65 years old are some of the most affected by the bad air quality. 

“Within the last month or so, we’ve seen an increase in the number of patients with respiratory symptoms, particularly in the pediatric population,” Moua said. 

The Fresno Fire Department has recently battled many structure fires in the city and firefighters are also facing a challenging wildfire season. 

“During these times, we’re not strangers to forest fires living here in the Central Valley, so during this time frame just be aware of air quality,” said Cassandra Melching with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. 

“If you do have persistent asthma, COPD, chronic lung disease, definitely stay on top of your medication,” Moua added. “Obviously consult with their doctor for further recommendations.”

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