We all know we have some of America's dirtiest air, but now a recent report shows it's worse than it was last year.
This past winter was an unseasonably dry one and that took a toll on our air quality. It was a dry and abnormal winter throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Lack of rainfall and our dry weather teamed up to help our air quality go down.
17 News Chief Meteorologist Alissa Carlson explains some of the contributing factors to the poor air quality. "Spring has been wet, but winter didn't really show up until spring arrived, at least winter weather. And, in December, we had a trace of rain. In February, we had just a quarter of an inch.”
Natalie Dysan is a mother of two. One of her kids struggles with bronchitis, and she says living in the Central Valley raises health concerns. "It is discouraging when we have the days where it is bad air days and we can't go outside or they say to stay inside. It is kind of a bummer when you have kids and they want to hang out and be outside."
Poor air quality can have a significant impact on our health, including lung problems, asthma, and even heart disease.
April's 2012 report from California Air Pollution Control shows San Joaquin Valley counties had thirteen more unhealthy air days compared to last winter.
Brenda Turner from the Valley Air District says, "This winter was rather unusual. We are hoping that this is not a long-term pattern and particulate matter levels built and we had far more 'no burn' days."
Those 'no burn' days have helped our area see significant improvements over long-term air quality.
Turner says, "We are seeing much better quality than we saw five or ten years ago, so that is the very important thing that people need to remember."
According to the report, the South Coast and San Joaquin valley areas had an estimated $22 billion in annual health care costs from air pollution.