Health on the Nipomo Mesa: Join us for an open house and forum on air quality
This story was produced as part of a larger project led by Monica Vaughan, a participant in the 2019 California Fellowship.
Other stories in this series include:
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Do you live or work on the Mesa? Did you know the air quality is sometimes unhealthy? It can trigger a persistent cough, asthma attacks, and even lung disease after prolonged exposure.
There are simple things you can do to protect yourself and keep your family healthy. Join us at Mesa Middle School on Sept. 4 for a free, public event to learn from community experts. Together, we will discuss:
- How to receive air quality alerts so you know when the air is unhealthy to breathe
- What you can do to protect yourself and your family when the air is bad
- The health risks of breathing air with particulate matter
Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. (Panel discussion 6 to 7 p.m.)
Mesa Middle School, 2555 S Halcyon Road, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
The event is free and open to all ages. Childcare and light refreshments will be provided. Spanish interpretation and translation will be available.
An interactive panel discussion moderated by Tribune reporter Monica Vaughan will provide local, expert information, featuring San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein, Air Pollution Control District Officer Gary Willey and retired pulmonologist Dr. Robert Lapidus.
Before and after the panel, you can gather more information and participate in conversations with your neighbors, as well as air quality and health experts.
This event is sponsored by the The Tribune and the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, with translation assistance from Promotores Collaborative.
Please note: This event is about health and air quality. We will not focus on the source of dust, or regulatory or political issues.
WHAT IS THE AIR QUALITY PROBLEM ON THE NIPOMO MESA?
This community event is part of The Tribune’s investigation into air quality on the Nipomo Mesa, where monitors sometimes show high concentrations of tiny particles that can be dangerous to your health when inhaled.
Fine dust particles known as particulate matter blow across the Mesa on windy days and can lodge deep inside your lungs, causing irritation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure can cause shortness of breath, throat irritation and eye irritation. It can also trigger serious problems like asthma attacks or heart attacks, and it can impact lung development in children.
These are risks. Not everyone who lives in the area will experience health consequences. And, there are things you can do to protect yourself, like staying inside and closing all the windows when the air is bad.
You can check the air quality by visiting: www.airnow.gov.
The amount of particulate matter in the air on the Mesa violates state air quality standards several times a year, according to EPA-approved monitors installed by the county Air Pollution Control District. Specifically, at the monitor located at the Cal Fire station, air quality violated the state standard 47 days in 2018, 97 days in 2017, and 71 days in 2016.
There are many more days when the particulate matter level spikes for a few hours. On May 27 and 28 this year, for example, the air quality index on the Mesa reached hazardous levels.
[This story was originally published by The Tribune.]