BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – You’ve heard of cooling centers – places for older or otherwise vulnerable residents to cool off when the Kern County heat becomes unbearable and even dangerous.

Well, here’s a sign of the times. Very likely coming to a community center, senior center, sports facility, library, or school cafeteria near you: clean air centers.

The Valley Air District has secured a $750,000 grant from a state pilot program for the purchase of portable electric air cleaners which can be deployed on exceptionally bad air days – specifically when wildfires coat the valley with smoke and particulate matter.

Based on its population on the valley side of the mountains, Kern County will receive a little more than $130,000, which should be enough for about a hundred of the units.

At its Tuesday morning meeting the Board of Supervisors will decide if Kern County will be participating in the project, thought to be the first of its kind in the nation.

It’s not as simple as accepting state funding – the county would be expected to take on certain expenses – staffing, utilities and associated costs.

The valley air district is now accepting applications from  local organizations and governments interested in opening clean air centers, with priority given to those located in areas where they can serve the more vulnerable populations.