An air quality watch was issued Wednesday for the Santa Maria area and will be in effect throughout the weekend as high winds could whip up dust and other particulates into the air.
The warning was issued Wednesday by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, stating that high winds are forecast that may produce elevated particle levels.
The highest levels expected in the afternoon and early evening, the statement said.
On Tuesday, similar conditions were present and the Santa Maria monitoring station recorded levels of particulate matter just slightly over the state standard, the statement said.
Particle levels recorded at other monitoring stations in the county were significantly lower than those recorded in Santa Maria, so the watch is in effect only for that area.
"Stronger winds may occur from time to time over the next several days, thus this watch is in effect until Monday morning, Sept. 23," the statement said.
Health officials are warning people to use caution and that people with heart or lung disease, including asthma, older adults and children, should limit time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise when high concentrations of dust and particles are in the air.
Anyone with symptoms of lung or heart disease that may be related to exposure to particles, including repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea or unusual fatigue or lightheadedness should contact a health care provider, the statement said, and the public is encouraged to avoid dust-producing activities when winds are high.
Click here for more information, and for recorded advisory updates, call 805.961.8802.