Let's take a look at friendly Fresno and the air we breathe.
Fresno is the 5th most populous city in California and 34 most populous in the United States, with roughly half a million residents breathing polluted air.
I've talked with many residents over the past ten years, and so far, no one has disputed the issue when it comes to the air we breathe in Fresno. They all say it's polluted, but what can we do?
Here are some of the reasons for the pollution.
We love our mountains, but they help trap most of the polluted air that we breathe daily. Even with all of the snow at the top of the mountains, just living in this valley surrounded by multiple mountain ranges hurts our air daily.
Between smog, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases like methane, our air causes many health conditions.
The mountain ranges surrounding Fresno and the Central Valley contribute to our pollution due to trapping all of these gases and the warm air of 3.5 million residents.
Due to this, our air is considered the worst in the Central Valley and the United States.
Ozone is our biiggest cahllenge. It contains car emissions, agricultural emissions, and industrial emissions that together cause the smog we see and breathe daily.
Reactive Organic Gases
Next in line, most likely, the most significant cause of air pollution is the reactive organic gases found in this area.
These gases come from a plethora of gases that include the transfer of petroleum products as well as their storage, gas and oil production, farming operations, organic solvents, and various processes.
What's the most important fact here is that at this time, there are no health regulations when it comes to these types of gases.
Oxide fuels are next. They are the culmination of emissions from off-road and on-road vehicles under high pressure and released into the ozone.
Airborne dust is made of particles small enough to stay suspended in the air for long periods.
This dust we breathe includes smoke, dust from ongoing home and road construction, fire, and the soot produced from the fires.
All of this dust passes through the respiratory system causing major health issues with residents, as seen by the chart below.
Asthma Visits to the ER ages 5-17 (provided by Kaiser Health News)
percentage increase in rates from 2005-2012 for selected California Counties
California Counties Percentage Increase
Contra Costa 29.8%
San Bernardino 23.4%
Los Angeles 17.0%
Carbon Monoxide is odorless and highly toxic and found throughout Fresno in our homes and the air. It's caused by on-road vehicle emissions and other mobile sources, fuel combustion, and various processes throughout the county.
Lastly, my favorite is the rotten-egg-smelling gas I know we get from our well on hot summer. This excellent gas is Sulfur Dioxide.
It's not odorless, but it is colorless and highly irritating gas that results from the combustion of sulfur fossil fuels.
Thankfully, low sulfur fuel usage has helped keep this gas to a minimum in our air. However, it hasn't helped with the water issues, which is a topic for another post.
By now, you're most likely sick of what you've read here, but know it's real. These and other issues are what we are up against now and in the future.
If we want to change things, we need to start considering the fuels we use, fertilizers, fuel options, and anything else that contributes to air pollution in our area.
We can't count on politicians who can't seem to put political parties aside or even the professionals who monitor and fight air pollution when governed by the same politicians who can't see eye to eye.
It's up to us to fight for our future. It's up to us to fight for our children's and grandchildren's health in the future.
Air and water pollution is a significant health issue in Fresno County, and clearing the air and water (so to speak) should be our priority.
We need to take the bull by the horn and start demanding more oversight and the cooperation of politicians, professionals, and civic leaders in a fight to change the air and water we breathe and drink, so our families have a better and more healthy future.
Information for this post was provided by:
Baz Allergy, Asthma, and Sinus Health Center
Fresno General Plan Objectives, Policies
Air Pollution Control-Valley Air District
American Lung Assicoiation