As a public health agency, the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District is committed to achieving clean air to protect the public's health and the environment throughout Yolo County and the northeast portion of Solano County.
During an episodic event, air quality levels can change quickly and residents must protect themselves from any possible health impacts.
Many of us experience some kind of air pollution-related symptoms such as watery eyes, coughing, or wheezing. Even for healthy people, polluted air can cause respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities. Your actual risk depends on your current health status, the pollutant type and concentration, and the length of your exposure to the polluted air.
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity when ozone, smog or other pollution levels are high.
- Avoid congested streets and heavy traffic; motor vehicles are a primary source of air pollution.
- Make sure teachers, coaches and recreation officials know about air pollution levels and act accordingly.
- Watch the calendar. Ozone smog tends to be worse from May to September. PM tends to be worse in winter months and during wildfires.
People most susceptible to severe health problems from air pollution are:
- Individuals with heart or lung disease
- Individuals with respiratory problems such as asthma or emphysema
- Pregnant women
- Outdoor workers
- Children under age 14, whose lungs are still developing
- Athletes who exercise vigorously
High air pollution levels can cause immediate health problems:
- Aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illness
- Added stress to heart and lungs, which must work harder to supply the body with oxygen
- Damaged cells in the respiratory system
Long-term exposure to polluted air can have permanent health effects:
- Accelerated aging of the lungs and loss of lung capacity
- Decreased lung function
- Development of diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possible cancer
- Shortened life span
Health Effects of Specific Pollutants
Ground-level Ozone - Ozone is a strong irritant that can cause constriction of the airways, forcing the respiratory system to work harder in order to provide oxygen. It can also cause other health problems:
- Aggravated respiratory disease such as emphysema, bronchitis and asthma
- Damage to deep portions of the lungs, even after symptoms such as coughing or a sore throat disappear
- Wheezing, chest pain, dry throat, headache or nausea
- Reduced resistance in infection, increased fatigue, or weakened athletic performance
Particulate Matter - A series of scientific studies have linked particulate matter, especially fine particles, with a variety of significant health problems:
- Aggravated asthma, heart or lung disease
- Respiratory related hospital admissions and emergency room visits
- Acute respiratory symptoms, including severe chest pain, gasping, and aggravated coughing
- Decreased lung function, which can be experienced as shortness of breath
- Chronic bronchitis
- Premature death
Use of Masks During Episodic Events (Wildfires)
Paper “comfort” or “nuisance” masks are designed to trap large dust particles — not the tiny particles found in smoke. These masks generally will not protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.