Is the Particulate Matter Exposure a Health Threat on the Nipomo Mesa?

The dust plume that arises on windy days from the the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) regularly exceeds State standards for particulate matter (PM) concentrations.  Release of fine particulate matter into the air is regulated by Federal and California law because PM exposure is proven to be a health risk.  California air quality standards set limits on maximum emission levels for particles that are 10 microns per cubic meter (PM10) and 2.5 microns per cubic meter  (PM2.5).   When people breathe air that contains fine particles of this size, some of the particles stay in their lungs and the smallest particles can pass through the lungs into the blood stream.  Being exposed to any kind of particulate matter may cause: increased emergency department visits and hospital stays for breathing and heart problems worsened asthma symptoms adverse birth outcomes breathing problems decreased lung growth in children lung cancer early deaths People who are at the highest risk of being adversely affected by particulate matter include: People with heart or lung diseases , because they will feel the effects of particulate matter sooner. Older   adults    are   more   likely   than   young   adults   to   have   to   go   to   the   hospital   or   die   because   the   exposure   to   particle   pollution   has made their heart or lung disease worse. Children   because   they   are   still   growing   and   spend   more   time   at   high   activity   levels.   When   children   come   in   contact   with   particle pollution   over   a   long   period   of   time   they   may   have   problems   as   their   lungs   and   airways   are   developing.   This   exposure   may   put them   at   risk   for   lowered   lung   function   and   other   respiratory   problems   later   in   life.   Children   are   more   likely   than   adults   to   have asthma and other respiratory problems that can worsen when particle pollution is high. Infants because their lungs continue to develop after birth and can be impacted by air pollutants. To learn more about the health risks of fine PM exposure click here.  

Protect Your Health - Minimize Particulate Matter Exposure

The   best   way   to   reduce   the   PM   health   threat   is   to   avoid   breathing   unhealthy   levels   of   fine   dust   particles.      Some   people   may experience   immediate   health   problems   with   short-term   exposures   to   high   PM   concentrations.      All   people   risk   PM-related   health problems if exposed to high dust concentrations over the long term. Limit Outdoor PM Exposure A   good   guide   for   judging   the   level   health   threat   from   outdoor   PM   exposure   is   the   Air   Quality   Index   (AQI).      The   AQI   is   a   number   based on   how   serious   the   health   risk   is   from   the   combined   effects   of   ozone,   PM10   and   PM2.5   exposure.      On   the   Nipomo   Mesa   there   is   no significant ozone pollution.  To learn more about AQI and what it means for health risk, click here. To   minimize   unhealthy   PM   outdoor   exposure,   avoid   extended   outdoor   activity   when   the   AQI   is   at   or   above   the   UNHEALTHY    level.      This is   especially   true   for   work   or   athletic   activities   that   raise   breathing   rates.      For   people   with   existing   conditions   or   who   are   sensitive   to PM exposure, outdoor activity should be avoided when the AQI is at or above the UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS  level.   The   AQI   for   the   Nipomo   area   can   be   viewed   at   the   Nipomo   AirNow   web   page   (click   here ).      The   AQI   index   for   Nipomo   is   derived   from PM monitors operated by the SLO County Air Pollution Control District and reported to the AirNow system. To   learn   about   other   measures   of   PM   concentration   monitors   for   our   area   and   air   quality   alert   services,   go   to   the   Monitors   and   Alerts page. Limit Long-Term Indoor PM Exposure It   is   also   important   to   avoid   long-term   indoor   PM   exposure,   such   as   in   your   home.      Close   windows   and   doors   when   the   outside   AQI level   is   UNHEALTHY    or   above.      On   the   Nipomo   Mesa   high   outdoor   PM   levels   occur   on   high   wind   days,   which   may   increase   dusty   air   flow around   windows   and   doors.      It   may   be   necessary   to   improve   weather   seals   and   to   seal   off   air   leaks.         To   further   reduce   dust   exposure, consider   using   high-efficiency   fine   particle   air   filters   in   your   home.      For   more   information   on   how   to   limit   indoor   exposure,   click   here.  

Mesa Air Facts!

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PM EXPOSURE HEALTH CONCERNS
Interpreting Nipomo Mesa Air Quality Data It’s easy to get confused with different air quality readings provided by a variety of monitors on Nipomo Mesa.  What is most useful to Mesa residents is real-time information on what’s happening with air quality at any given moment.   Fortunately, one of our fellow Mesa residents has made an in-depth study of public air quality monitoring services and various home particulate matter monitors.  His findings are summarized in the following report (click a link to go to that part directly): Part 1 explains how to use the available monitors to get information we want. Part 2 discusses air quality forecasting on the Mesa, and how to identify projected wind conditions that can create particulate dust events.   Part 3 covers how we can apply this information to protect our indoor door air quality at home.