Summertime in Santa Clarita prompts numerous air quality advisories

Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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County health officials Monday once again reported air quality “Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals” in Santa Clarita Valley and East San Gabriel Valley area, according to a warning from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The agency has issued this advisory several times this month already, and the Santa Clarita Valley can expect more, according to Ryan Kittell, a Forecaster with National Weather Service.

Southern California is infamous for its poor air quality for two major reasons: temperature inversion and wind, according to Kittell.

Due to temperature inversion, the general temperature of the air increases with elevation, as opposed to the typical decrease in temperature with elevation.

“We basically have a big lid on top of Southern California,” said Kittell, who explained that the “lid” of warm air prevents the polluted air near the surface from mixing properly with the clean air from above. Kittell also mentioned that temperature inversion usually peaks in July, meaning that Santa Clarita should expect more advisories this summer.

“Another factor is the wind,” said Kittell. “The wind usually blows in from the ocean, so all the pollution from the freeways and the coast gets pushed further inland… So places like inland like Santa Clarita get really bad air quality.”

The Air Quality Index, a measure of air quality, was forecasted to be 132 for Santa Clarita Monday morning. This AQI would classify the air quality as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.” Should this number rise, into the 151-200 range, it would be considered “Unhealthy” for the general public.

The county’s Public Health Department is advising people living or working in the East San Gabriel Valley and Santa Clarita Valley areas with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory diseases to minimize outdoor activities, according to Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County’s interim health officer.

Schools with children who have sensitive conditions including heart disease, asthma, or any other chronic respiratory diseases, should not participate in outdoor physical activity and should stay indoors as much as possible. 

For more information about air quality, forecasts, and studies, visit the South Coast Air Quality Management District website at www.aqmd.gov.

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