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Drought Pushing More Air Pollution Into Southern California As No-Burn Alerts Triple

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —  Experts say the drought is pushing more air pollution into California this winter, prompting an increase in no-burn days.

Southern California has seen 16 no-burn alerts this winter – compared to five last year – with the hardest hit areas in the San Joaquin Valley.

Sam Atwood of the South Coast Air Quality Management District told KNX1070’s Ron Kilgore the increase in partly due to tighter restrictions enacted last year, although dry conditions aren’t helping.

“The same kind of weather that causes the drought – the high pressure systems, the stagnant conditions, the lack of much wind – can also lead to an elevation in our fine particulate level,” Atwood said, noting, “Regardless of the drought, we would have seen more no-burn days this winter because of this change in our regulation.”

Atwood said it’s too early to tell just how much the drought-caused conditions are now affecting air quality in the Southland – where until now overall air quality had been improving. The agency hopes its relatively new “Check Before You Burn” initiative will help to prevent unnecessary pollution.

“[We wanted] to make our ‘Check Before You Burn’ [program] more health protective so that we are asking residents to not burn wood when we forecast that fine particulate levels could be elevated and could increase unhealthy conditions,” he explained.

The South Coast AQMD’s “Check Before You Burn” map is available on the agency’s website.

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